Oscar-Winning Movies: More Box-Office Dollars? Look In Rear-View Mirror

The Oscar for best movie may not be that big a prize. Consider the relative size of the movie’s target audience to get a clear picture. Using 2013 figures put together by Edmund Helmer, a data analyst with Facebook, suggests a best picture Oscar win only adds $3 million to a film's U.S. box office revenues -- far less than the $14.2 million boost after a win at the Golden Globes.

As has been the case for a while, the Oscar event is the last stop in an awards journey that begins in late December. If movie-goers want to see “Bridge of Spies” or “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Brooklyn,” they already -- for the most part -- had an itch to see these movies before the Oscars TV show.

Factor in all the advertising leading up to the big awards show, as well as increasing  “earned” media -- TV publicity, guest appearances, and, of course, social media.



Then there’s the movie advertising during the Oscars itself -- which has been allowed on the ABC TV show since 2009. But those messages can’t tout already-released movies.

Social media considerations? Sure, increasingly social media can mean lots to movies -- much more than in previous years. Perhaps the current surprise hit “Deadpool” could point to this trend.

But many Oscar-winning movies are generally older, “adult”-theme-oriented films, which tend to see less social media activity than those young-skewing movie action-ers.

Here is something else to consider: Many of those Oscar-winning movies are niche, more independent-looking movies -- not nearly your bigger box-office films. And almost always not summer or end-of-the-year holiday season blockbusters.

Five of the eight most recent Oscar best pictures grossed less than $100 million in U.S. box office. And four of those five pulled in less than $60 million. Last year “Birdman” won pulling in $42.3 million; the year before, “12 Years a Slave” earned best picture honors, totalling $56.7 million at the box office.

“The Martian” has the biggest U.S. box office to date of all best picture nominees this year: $228.3 million. “The Revenant” is next, with $165.5 million.

In an increasing real-time media world, Oscar picture winners should look in the rear-view mirror for the true drama around their business performances.

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