Oscar for 'Best Picture' Worth Its Weight in Gold

PHOTO: Nate Sanders displays the collection of Oscar statuettes that his auction company will sell online to the highest bidder in this Feb. 24, 2012, file photo.
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For a movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture is, of course, an honor. But what's it worth at the box office?

To find out, IBISWorld, an industry and market research firm, looked at movie box office sales for the past five years. Best Picture contenders that got the biggest benefit from being nominated, they found, were those with low marketing budgets.

After "Silver Linings Playbook" was nominated, for example, the number of movie theaters screening it more than tripled.

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That film, which was in theaters for more than six months, earned more than half its ticket sales in the six weeks between its nomination and the awards ceremony.

IBISWorld notes that although a movie's opening weekend sales usually determine its commercial success or failure, getting a Best Picture nomination can be more determinative.

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For winners, says IBISWorld, Oscar is worth more than his weight in gold: Winners earn about $13.8 million more, post-win, than do the other nominees.

But even just being nominated for Best Picture has a pretty positive effect of a movie's take: For the 2008 to 2012 award seasons, movies that got a Best Picture nomination strongly outperformed the industry, earning a 55.7 percent profit from their box office sales alone. By contrast, says IBISWorld, the movie and video industry as a whole had an average profit (EBIT) of just 7.5 percent, including DVD and streaming sales.

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Among nominees this year, "Gravity," which leads in box office sales ($267 million as of Feb. 14), got a tremendous boost by being nominated: Ticket sales in the week following its nomination increased more than 358 percent.

The week before "12 Years a Slave" earned its Best Picture nomination, it was playing in 114 theaters. The week after? More than 1,000. The jump in its weekly sales was 415 percent.

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