Oscar Movies & Money

February, 2018, Commentary


Oscar Movies & Money

 Movies are an expensive art form-and a very risky business. Even the least expensive ones require expenditures in excess of a million dollars, a price tag now increasingly spent on single episodes of a network television series. Of course, cost has only a relative relationship to a film’s merit; “blockbusters” can be economically successful while possessing precious little in the way of artistic merit - - as so readily confirmed by many of Hollywood’s productions .

 Speaking only in financial terms, commercial success depends on both overall cost and total revenue  - including box office receipts, after-market sales to television and in the case of many movies, product licensing fees generated by the demand for products bearing a movie’s name or image. Take this year’s  films that have been nominated for best picture of 2017 along with their box-office receipts and production costs (in millions). Look at the numbers and then draw your own conclusions-

 Production Costs    Gross Ticket Sales


The Post $ 50 $  135

Lady Bird  10                  49    

Dunkirk    100                         526     

Shape of Water  19                   95     

Call Me By Your Name  6       27     

Get Out  5                           255     

Phantom Thread   35              28      

Darkest Hour      30               132      

3 Billboards, etc   15              49


Lest some of these results suggest movie making is a financial bonanza, remember that a movie’s revenues must be shared with the theaters that show them. Furthermore, the marketing expenses of a movie aren’t included in its production costs. If Get Out was a bargain to make, the subsequent advertising dollars spent to boost the ticket sales of this surprisingly well received horror film were significant.

That said, only Daniel Day Lewis’ purported last screen appearance in Phantom Thread will require some skillful negotiation in the television after-market to recoup the money investors’ put up to finance it. The Shape of Water has done well in international markets and with its 13 Oscar nominations can be counted on to produce hefty fees in global T.V. markets, while Lady Bird’<i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">s box office revenue comes only from U.S. theaters, suggesting it won’t have much market value beyond our borders in either theaters or on television networks abroad.

Fortunately,  The Shape of Water (in my opinion) is far and away the best of this lot and with 13 Oscar nominations in total, it’s sure to provide a solid return to its owners. Of the rest, JakesTakes believes that two of these nominees are really disappointing, (Lady Bird and 3 Billboards) while the rest are of varying quality.

Tune in this Sunday night to see The Academy’s picks and judge the awards on both their artistic and commercial success.









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