Big Bucks Buy Exposure But Not Necessarily Oscars

Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" spent $40.3 million in advertising from January through November 2006. As a result, it got Best Picture and four other nominations, as well as some $130 million in U.S. box-office receipts.

Naturally, the majority of those marketing dollars are not spent to get Oscars medals but to support the extent of their releases in a particular number of theaters. Far and away, the widest release was with "The Departed" and its 3,000-plus opening screens. "The Queen" was next at 1,800-plus opening screens.

Still, the Oscars nominations and awards do mean big dollars for movies--and some of those movie media dollars translate into major visibility, which can result in nominations and awards.

But on an efficiency level, year in and year out, independent and more modest theatrical releases do much better with the Oscars. This year, "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Queen" and "Letters From Iwo Jima" are already big winners with high-profile nominations.

According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, from January to November of 2006, "Little Miss Sunshine" spent $11.9 million in advertising; "The Queen" spent $14.5 million. Even the slightly more widely released "Babel" paid a bit more: $16.4 million.



In theory, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, "Letter from Iwo Jima" has the best deal of all: It spent nothing on advertising. In reality, the Clint Eastwood-directed movie was released on Dec. 20. So Nielsen didn't account for whatever marketing costs were paid in the weeks between November and late December.

Looking at other categories, "Blood Diamond," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, spent $19.9 million--the most for any movie nominated for a Best Actor award. "The Pursuit of Happyness" with Will Smith, was second--spending $10.6 million.

The two leaders in the Best Actress category are Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren, according to ad dollars spent last year. "The Devil Wears Prada" paid $22.4 million for Streep; "The Queen" plunked down $14.5 million for Mirren.

Still, you can get Oscar nominations for much less. Movies "Half Nelson" (Ryan Gosling), "Venus" (Peter O'Toole) and "Notes on a Scandal" (Judi Dench) all spent less than $400,000 each to get their nominations, according to Nielsen.

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