The Oscars and Movie Box Office

What is the most exciting time in Hollywood?

If you guessed January and February, you are correct!  After the first of the year, a series of awards are giving to recognize the best movies and performances of the previous year. Some of these awards are the Golden Globes, Producers Guild, Writers Guild, The Los Angeles Film Critics Awards, British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), and the Academy Awards, also known as The Oscars.

           

Being nominated for any of these awards is prestigious, and winning is even better.  For movie studios, however, the award season can be less about winning and more about maximizing their profit margins.  There is a buzz created by all of the nominations, and studios can use that buzz to help promote a film and appeal to more moviegoers.  Winning an Academy Award, of course, represent the height of success for any movie.

The Oscar nominations are announced the month before the ceremony and many studios go into full campaign mode to maximize the excitement surrounding the awards. There are new commercials launched that focus on how many and what kind of Oscar nominations a movie has received. This is an attempt to entice viewers to see the movie because it is being recognized as one of the best films of the year for one reason or another.  After nominations are announced studios will also try to get interviews and photo shoots set up with the actors in the film as a way to get some free publicity.

Does all of the award buzz really pay off for the studios?  Box office results indicate that, yes, there really is something to the excitement.  According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, The Artist had a small four-theater release around Thanksgiving and was slowly gaining momentum, but after being nominated for an Oscar it jumped up to over six hundred screens.

The publicity around the awards can be important for independent films that are nominated.  Many of them have small advertising budgets and being nominated puts a film on the map.  The Descendants, from Fox Searchlight, was another movie that had a small opening and was able to pick up momentum through the award season.

The Oscars had an interesting effect on the movie The Hurt Locker.  Originally released in June of 2009, The Hurt Locker opened for twenty-one weeks on 535 screens and grossed only $12.5 million.  After winning the Oscar for best picture in 2010, the movie was re-released for two weeks on 350 screens and grossed another $4 million, about 30% more!

The Artist, The Descendants, and The Hurt Locker are all examples of films that have received a boost from award nominations and wins.  The Academy Award is the most important award given during the season because of the number of filmmakers, tradespeople and actors voting for the winners.  According to the chart on BoxOfficeQuant.com, there is a significant jump in movie revenue at the start of the award season, and it continues through the Oscars Award ceremony.  All of the award excitement can pay off for some movies in a big way, with box office boost and the long-term claim to fame.

Amelia M. Torre

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