And the Oscar goes to…. the gross profit

And the Oscar goes to…. the gross profit

Leopoldo Mitre – February 23, 2015

An Oscar helps to increase the worldwide box office revenue at least 21%, while ensures the economic future production royalties of a movie. But analysts agree: it’s impossible to win an Oscar without spending money.


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The film industry in Hollywood is as chaotic and unpredictable as Wall -Street. It could sound incredible, but the ceremony that excites thousands every year and puts us on the edge of the seat just because we want know who of our favourite stars are going to win the Oscar, also puts the most prominent cinema executives to thrill. Because to hear the name of the movie you want after the phrase “And the Oscar goes to…” could represent the difference between success and bankruptcy.

To win an Oscar, especially the ones of the most prestigious categories (best actor, actress, director or movie), helps to increase global box office revenue of a film at least in 21%, at the same time it ensures the economic future production royalties. Also there are exceptional cases that exceed this percentage. For example: the business plan of ‘ The King’s Speech ‘ (winner for best picture in 2011) predicted the movie would earn 29 million dollars in worldwide box office, with a budget of 15 million. After their twelve nominations were announced, the film for which Colin Firth won the Oscar as best actor rebounded to reach almost 200 million. But after the crew hit the four Oscars (also won for Best Director and Original Screenplay), revenues exceeded the amazing number of $420 million at the box office only.

So, to get out with an Oscar of the most prestigious ceremony of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in America is, for many, not only the entrance to an elite club of the best film industry members, but also represents the permission to continue playing in the filmmaking game. Although, sometimes projects advocate for a great marketing machine since the beginning and do not wait to see what an Oscar could provide for them. And this is not a surprise. Some years, Hollywood blockbusters can easily match the budget that a Pharmaceutical could have invested for years to discover and launch a new product. And it’s in those years where producers put all-in, so not to win the Oscar can lead to bankruptcy literally. In those cases the industry prefers to ensure a good box office since the beginning and take aside the Oscar’s hope.

However a high-grossing film does not guarantee always an Oscar.

This was the case of Avatar, James Cameron’s top-grossing film. The premiere took place a few months before the awards ceremony (December 2009) and with the protection of a large advertising campaign. So when the time came, the movie arrived the Oscars with box office revenue exceeded by more than 1,000 million dollars the money Cameron invested. I suppose that was the reason Cameron do not hesitate when his ex-wife Kathyn Bigelow beat him with the Hurt Locker Oscars in Best Picture and Best Director categories. The payback was beyond question.

Avatar is a success story for Century Fox, however failures abound in the industry and the names of their producers are not known (precisely because the terrific failures) but its protagonists and actors are remembered as pariahs of the industry for not having recovered even 10 % of the investment in some cases. That’s why many producers are constantly risky averse with blockbusters and prefer to bet on “safer ” movies. You know, the classic formula of remakes, sagas or romantic comedy films that make us have a good time in the cinema but go unnoticed in our memory.

This year particularly was not one of blockbusters. The numbers prove that. But fortunately this year we have creative bets options because the original and unconventional proposals. “Boyhood” and “Birdman” were the two favourite’s to win the Best Film Oscar this year, and no matter if we combine the budget of both it didn’t reach 21 million according to Forbes. However, the originality of their proposals also the years they have been lobbying among members of the Academy have lead them to obtain the nomination. We do not have to discard the existence of undeclared budget that the distributors could possible had been used in PR activities to position the movies. And it is not my self-alone who say so, is what experts have been telling us for years:

How much cost to win an Oscar?

There is no official record. Just as political campaigns where nobody likes to say how much everybody has spent on PR, but everybody do it. Analysts agree that it is impossible to win an Oscar without spending money. So experts estimate that at least have to invest $ 5 million to position seriously among the nearly six thousand members of the Academy, if the pocket pulled. Even if budget is not a problem the figure may reach 25 million.

By the time you are reading these lines the world already know who got out the Kodak Theatre as winner of the 87th Oscars ceremony. We will also know the names of the ones that Hollywood will cover with glory, but more important than that: the industry will also know who will be benefit with our money to pay the movie tickets.