Opinion: Let’s talk O$car$

Andrew Paulsen

Andrew Paulsen

Andrew Paulsen is a senior electronic media production major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

It’s that time of year again. I can guarantee if you have any friends who consider themselves film buffs or cinema aficionados, they’re probably trying to play catch-up with award season darlings right now.

You know.

“The Artist.” “Hugo.” “Tree of Life.” “The Help.”

Anything your friends didn’t catch in initial release, they must now suddenly track down at a Redbox or in limited re-release at some local art house theater. It’s seemingly compulsive behavior to you, but to them, their cinephile cred is on the line and they have to be the first to see them ALL.

Unfortunately, flocking to a film like “The Artist” just because it won the Oscar for Best Picture will not necessarily help them grow to a new level of movie snob genius. But there is one thing it will aid: Movie studio revenue haul.

While it’s great to see inspiring, well-made movies, there’s a little more to the Academy Awards than just praise and commendation. As my Reviewing Film and TV professor says, “It’s called show business for a reason — it is a BUSINESS.”

Consumers exchange money for a product.

That money then covers production, distribution and promotion costs of the product.

If there’s any extra money after expenses, it’s profit in the company books. Hollywood may tell you that it’s biggest award show is all about honoring artistic integrity and recognizing master actors, actresses and filmmakers, but it’s really about who can cash in on a money ball (pardon the pun) of Oscar-obsessed moviegoers.

Now before you label me an anti-corporate, anti-Hollywood activist, I want you to know that I’m not. I’m just being slightly cynical here so you can see the numbers for yourself.

After running “Oscar Boost” figures [published on BoxOfficeMojo.com] through my calculations, the Best Picture winners from 2001 to 2010 made 14.56% of their total gross after the Oscars, which equates to a little more than $17.9 million per film. That doesn’t guarantee that winning the Oscar will boost a movie another $18 million, but it shows how much the market has reacted to Best Pictures in ticket sales over the past decade.

Also, as we know, film revenue doesn’t end when the credits roll at the local cineplex. There’s video on-demand, iTunes and DVD distribution.

According to a Jo Piazza article on CNN.com (titled, “Campaigning gets major — in Hollywood”), 2009 Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker” made $31 million in DVD sales. That’s $16 million more than the film grossed in theaters.

Piazza also noted that “The Hurt Locker’s” studio, Summit Entertainment, spent between three and five million dollars on its campaign for Academy voters consideration at the 82nd Oscars.

Now there’s nothing wrong with winning Oscars or awards ceremonies and there’s nothing wrong with going to see a movie you think you’ll enjoy. But when you see a film being promoted as the Winner of _______ Award for ________, just realize that esteem and professional recognition have some monetary incentive along the way.