HOLLYWOOD, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The correlation of box-office receipts and Academy Awards is not necessarily coefficient though they do inspire speculation.
A record-breaking, financially successful movie is not assured an Oscar by any means, often not even a nomination for best picture of the year. Nor does the sum of production costs insure a Hollywood movie recognition by the Academy's 5,000 voting members.
What the great unwashed masses of moviegoers find most entertaining does not often jibe with the members' definition of an Oscar-worthy movie. A sampling of some recent comparative statistics:
1990 -- "Home Alone" ranked No. 1 at the box office, but the Oscar went to "Dances With Wolves."
1991 -- "Terminator 2" led all grosses with the Oscar going to "The Silence of the Lambs," only seventh highest at the box office.
1992 -- The animated "Aladdin" led all films at the box office with "Unforgiven" winning the Oscar.
1993 -- "Jurassic Park" was the box office champ but "Schindler's List" copped the Academy Award.
1994 -- "The Lion King" wore the box office crown but "Forrest Gump" won the Oscar.
1995 -- "Batman Forever" topped the box office with "Braveheart" running away with the Oscar.
One would think "Titanic," which won the Oscar in 1997 and is the biggest money-maker of all time, would have been crowned top grosser of the year. It wasn't. Topping the box-office in 1997 was "Men In Black."
It should be recognized that box-office figures are not based on the calendar year as are the Oscars, which creates unbalance in the comparisons.
All the same, the majority of producers prefers box office records over awards, though Oscars gather additional millions for winning films.
Both artistic laurels and stacks of currency in the vault are highly valued by filmmakers, not to mention exhibitors, and award-winning movies usually are near the top of the box-office charts.
Perhaps the academy chose to reduce somewhat the abyss between box office and Oscars when it voted this year to add a category to its list: Best animated feature-length film.
The new category should close the gap between such films as "The Lion King" and, say, "Schindler's List." Eliminating the comparison of apples and oranges.
Clearly, the majority of the most popular box-office films are made for tots, teens, adolescents and young adults; not old fogies.
Just as evident is most Academy Award-winners are aimed at thinking adults who comprise the academy membership. The ideal movie from the standpoint of artistic merit and enormous grosses is a motion picture that appeals to all generations and both sexes.
There is such a movie out there at this moment: "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." It is essentially a children's movie based on author J. K. Rowling's books for youngsters, but it is a remarkably outstanding movie in its own right.
There is no Oscar category for children's films, but almost all fair-minded adults who have seen "Harry Potter" will agree it is magical movie-making at its best.
Noteworthy, too, is the fact "Harry Potter" has amassed $200 million in its first two weeks in release, breaking previous box-office records in the process.
But it will not have to compete with the two smash animated pictures of the current year: "Shrek" and "Monsters, Inc.," both of which have been runaway box-office hits, albeit inferior to "Harry Potter."
"Harry Potter" could well be a major contender for the best picture Oscar this year as well as box-office champion, a rare occurrence and appropriate reward for author Rowling who restored much-needed enchantment to motion picture audiences everywhere.
She has brought a refreshing make-believe to the screen with wonder, imaginative characters and awe-inspiring backgrounds, melding reality and innovation that smacks of genius. L. Frank Baum's Oz books and Walt Disney's soaring permutations of visual delights might be traced to the profundities of Charles Dickens, which came to the screen in "Oliver!" and "David Copperfield" among others.
Let it be said Rowling has created a matrix for outstanding motion pictures for the inhabitants of this planet for years to come. Director Chris Columbus has brought the first book to the screen intact where it has already achieved great distinction at the box office.
It remains to be seen if Rowling, Columbus and Warner Bros. will be rewarded with Academy Award recognition.
"Harry Potter" may not win the Oscar for best picture of 2001, but from what has been seen of other movies this year, it should be honored as best picture of 2001 on merit alone.
If not, "Harry Potter" should not fail to be nominated for that award.
Aging members of the academy should give Harry and Rowling their due -- providing the clatter of their ancient bones does not drown out the dialogue.