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David Poland

By David Poland

Facts Worth Noting Regarding The LA Times On Oscar Spending

The L.A. Times Story

The Maria Full of Grace reception at the Four Seasons was in a slightly smaller room than last year’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King reception at the Four Seasons, with a slightly smaller turn out.

The Sideways party at Vibrato was primarily for music voters and not a celebrity-filled event. In fact, the biggest name there that was not part of the film was Harry Hamlin, in addition to a few A-list directors.

Warner Bros. in reality did pull back on Oscar-specific spending on Million Dollar Baby in December, riding their media exposure and waiting for it’s mid-January wide release. Sideways, which initially opened in October, did the same, strategically waiting for Oscar nominations to spend on a national ad campaign and to go wide.

Sideways could never have expected to pass $20 million without the awards season… so is the $40 million-plus in addition theatrical box office really a disproportionate focus?

The $200,000 to bring Mick Jagger in for the Golden Globes came after the Oscar nominations closed and never could have had any effect on the failure to secure a nomination.

On the issue of The Oscar Box Office Bump:

Lord of The Rings: Return of the King grossed just 3% of its domestic total after winning Oscar, with Mystic River’s domestic total adding 9% after the awards. .

Chicago earned 21% of its domestic gross after winning, though it had only been in wide release for seven weeks prior to Oscar, while The Pianist did 38% percent of its business post-Oscar while never expanding to a full “wide” release.

A Beautiful Mind grossed 9% of its domestic total after winning, while Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers added 5%.

No other titles have grossed as much as $5 million additionally after The Oscars in the last three years. But Home Entertainment is thought to be benefited by major nominations in a very significant way.

Sophie Okonedo flew to the U.S. for Hotel Rwanda interviews no less than six times before nominations… she was shooting Aeon Flux in Berlin and came to town every chance MGM could get her in order to get the momentum for the nomination going.

New Line did not take advantage of a personal loss in the life of Imelda Staunton, regardless of strategic advantage and a limited budget, to promote her candidacy. So when she finally was available, they had to go to unique ends to get the media access to her in a very short period of time. In other words, what is presented in the piece as strategy was virtually the opposite.

Adrien Brody spent three months virtually non—stop promoting The Pianist.

Like political campaigns, capping Oscar campaigns is impossible without a cash fund to create a level playing field. And will we really need Oscars when hell freezes over?

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12 Responses to “Facts Worth Noting Regarding The LA Times On Oscar Spending”

  1. Ray Pride says:

    Print the legend!

  2. Justin says:

    Your splitting hairs aside, Dave, this piece points out (quite well) that Oscar wins are too often manufactured through money, politics, etc. We’ve known this for years of course but as the seasons pass the “problem” seems to deepen… which is unfortunate for those silly fools like myself who wish – and hope – the Oscars truly were what they claim to be: a cermony recognizing the best talent and films from any given year – as opposed to an uber-expensive film tournament where the deepest pockets will also likely be regarded as the deepest films. This mad rush of Oscar spending/campaigning threatens what little integrity these awards have left.

  3. Eric says:

    Justin, it is considered poor form to shit on the Oscar party the day before the ceremony. That you are completely right is utterly irrelevant.

  4. Joe Straat says:

    The Academy Awards are a fun game, and when the people you like get respected you feel they deserve, it’s even better, but as a defining factor in what’s “great,” really, has it EVER been that? Hell, that pretty much goes for ANY film list created on the year. The fatal flaw is there’s no way to test lasting power over these films, which is one of the keys to great movies.
    People get whalloped by the first viewing of films and then come back to it later bored out of their minds. There are films that slipped under the radar of hype that come back with a vengeance. People scrape away box office, critic lists, and just see the movie. So, like I said, the Academy Awards are a game. Trying to determine who played their cards just right, which movies and performances cancel out each other, who does the Academy “love” as a person, who do they dislike enough to snub a brilliant performance, and maybe, just maybe, which movies and performances cut through the hype and truly connected. It’s been boring the past couple years, but hopefully, while the lead performances are all but locked, the rest will have an interesting shakedown.

  5. David Poland says:

    Oh the joy when facts are reduced to “splitting hairs.”
    I wish for you that your hairs never get split that way. You won’t like it.
    If the idea is good, isn’t the story better with accurate facts? Aren’t you, as a reader, better served by having full and accurate knowledge. Or does the headline tell you what to think?

  6. Justin says:

    I felt, Dave, that your response to the LAT piece was missing the underlying theme – that this unbridled, unregulated spending on Oscar campaigns is cheapenig both the awards themselves, as well as cinema in general. Whether or not Paramount’s two hundred grand was well spent flying Mick Jagger to town is not the fact the LAT story hinges upon. It is, rather, the fact that the campaign budgets for some of these films often rival their actual production budgets(!) How can anyone say that the Academy’s process is healthy if that is the case? It is not unlike a professional sports league scenario, where the “small market teams” haven’t much hope of competeing against the big market monsters. Hotel Rwanda or Maria Full of Grace both began this Oscar season with a higher uphill climb to winning Oscars – and it wasn’t because they lacked quality, nor distribution, it’s because they lacked the seven and eight figure backing films like “The Aviator” enjoy. I have been watching the Oscars all my life and don’t hold them in disdain as some do, but I wish never-the-less that their attempts to reward good work was based on a system where simple dollars and cents could not weild the influence they so obviously do.

  7. Joe Leydon says:

    Great jumping balls of St. Elmo’s Fire! Anybody see the Friday box-office estimates yet? I figured “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” might play well with its target audience, but damn! Even I wouldn’t have predicted an opening day gross TWICE the size of two other mainstream openers (“Cursed” and “Man of the House”) put together. Like Dave says: It’s short-sighted to underestimate the size and enthusiasm of the “urban” (i.e., African-American) audience.

  8. Lota says:

    Well DP Did say/imply that Justin, just not in those exact words didn’t he?
    It has been a money thing for awhile, and even before i was born. Didn’t the studio campaign for Liz T to get her Butterfield 8 statue? Using emotional blackmail costs money too behind the scenes.
    Sometimes a little ignored movie triumphs. Miramax left City of God in the shadows while it pulled out the piggy bank plug for Cold Mountain and look how surprisingly successful City of God was in getting noms, and how good Cold Mountain was at failing to win after the initial bombast in the Autumn before.
    Too bad a movie can’t be out for 5 years before a nomination. Then people can see through the hype and vote for the memorable performances.

  9. Joe Leydon says:

    Ooops, My bad: In above posting, I meant to write “more than the two other mainstream openers (“Cursed” and “Man of the House”) put together.” Not “TWICE the size of…”

  10. Martin says:

    Will Smith must be pissed, now Hitch isn’t gonna make $200 mill. Was Diary one of those Oprah things? Cause all I saw was bad reviews and very little publicity.

  11. Randall says:

    The LA Times is a rag. What do you expect?

  12. Matt says:

    MAd Black Woman is all about extremely successful marketing to a niche demographic. The question’s gonna be how well it holds up Friday-Saturday, and if it has any appeal beyond that niche demographic. I don’t think it does (witness the tracking on “Woman, Thou Art Loosed!” which was the same demographic and didn’t cross over). I don’t get it, but as a young caucasian male, I’m clearly not in any way the demographic to whom the movie is targetted.

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