All five Academy Best Picture nominees went head-to-head atthe Taiwan box office in February to benefit from media buzz during the awardseason.

Clint Eastwood may have taken the Oscar home, but Taiwanaudiences are only interested in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. The Howard Hughes biopic is approaching $1min the capital after just three weeks on release as the other nominees struggleto break $200,000 in combined box office.The success of Million Dollar Baby and Ray at the awardshas given each film only a moderate box office boost.

The Aviator opened during Chinese New Year, one ofthe most lucrative periods in the local film calendar. While feel-good Chinese-language filmsopened in Hong Kong and Beijing, distributors in Taipei opted for less conventionalfare with biblical thriller Constantine, black comedy Meet TheFockers and Japanese animation Howl's Moving Castle.

With a gross of over $2.5m in the capital, Constantinehas emerged as the first blockbuster of the year, and a testament to Fox'ssavvy counter-programming of Freddy vs Jason that initiated the trendone year ago.

2005 Academy Best Picture Nominees at Taipei Box Office
The Aviator (CMC-Fox) $968,128
Finding Neverland (BVI) $76,421
Million Dollar Baby (CMC-Fox) $55,307
Sideways (Fox) $37,232
Ray (UIP) $34,861

2005 Chinese New Year Films at Taipei Box Office
Constantine (Warner) $2,630,677
Howl's Moving Castle (BVI) $1,454,578
Meet The Fockers (UIP) $1,447,183
The Aviator (CMC-Fox) $968,128
Nobody Knows (CMPC) $43,316

NT$1 = US$0.0323.Figures to 2 March 2005.