Oscar Winners Don't Make Movies More Money
By Jo Piazza Posted Feb 5th 2011 03:00PM
The value of using a former winner or nominee in a future project may be inflated.
In fact, when it comes to box office gross, having a former winner or nominee can be a bit of a crapshoot.
In 2010, 85% of the top twenty grossing movies for the year (with grosses provided by BoxOfficeMojo.com) contained at least one Academy-Award nominee. 40% of those top twenty contained at least one Academy-Award winner.
The list includes a variety of different kinds of films ranging from thrillers, animated features and serious-minded dramas such as 'Inception' (Winners: Michael Caine and Marion Cottilard; Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Tom Berenger) , 'True Grit' (Winners: Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon; Nominee: Josh Brolin), 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' (Nominees: Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter), and 'Toy Story 3' (Winner: Tom Hanks; Nominees: Joan Cusack and Ned Beatty). These films grossed between $119 million and $415 million at the box office.
Let's compare this to some of the lowest-grossing films of 2010, those ranked from 80-99 based on gross by Box Office Mojo. These movies grossed between $26 million and $37 million. Using the 80-99 ranked slots allows for the inclusion of enough major studio movies to make a good comparison to the top 20. Going below the 100th ranked film enters the territory of independent films and documentaries which can't be measured on the same scale. For this lower grossing tier of films, 50% of them contained at least one Academy Award-winner, while 40% contained at least one nominee. The incidence of winners in the lower tier is actually higher than for the higher grossing films.
Looking at the grosses it is clear that nabbing an Oscar winner for a film by no means guarantees monetary success. For instance, 'The American' starring George Clooney, grossed only $35 million in 2010, making it the 83rd ranked film by gross of the year. Similarly, the romantic comedy 'How Do You Know?', starring two previous Academy Award winners, Reese Witherspoon and Jack Nicholson, as well as previous nominee Owen Wilson, ranked 94th for the year, grossing just over $30 million.
Movies love to include their winners and nominees in their marketing materials. That's why we see lists of who has won and who has been nominated in film trailers. According to numbers from 2010 at least, the effect appears to be negligible.
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