GOING BIONIC: DISTRIBUTING INDEPENDENT FILMS INTERNATIONALLY – SMALLISH FILMS FEASTED (AGAIN) AT THE 87TH ACADEMY AWARDS!

Welcome to Going Bionic #255, otherwise known as our annual post-Oscar analysis of how Hollywood’s biggest night affects the indie film landscape. Luckily for all indie filmmakers, the little guys dominated the Oscars. Thus, today we’re going to highlight some of the most fascinating trends that emerged from the 87th Academy Awards.

The Little Guys Won the Top 10 Oscar Categories
Modestly budgeted films swept the ten most significant categories at the 87th Academy Awards, which is a glaring statement about how “bigger is certainly not better,” in today’s Hollywood. Here’s a list of winners from the top 10 Oscar categories, as well as the film’s production budget.

Category Winner Production Budget
Best Picture Birdman $18 million
Best Director Birdman $18 million
Best Actor The Theory of Everything $15 million
Best Actress Still Alice $5 million
Original Screenplay Birdman $18 million
Adapted Screenplay The Imitation Game $14 million
Supporting Actor Whiplash $3.3 million
Supporting Actress Boyhood $4 million
Cinematography Birdman $18 million
Editing Whiplash $3.3 million

The average budget of the six films that won the top ten Oscars at the 87th Academy Awards is a shade under $9.9 million, which is lower than the average fee of an A-list actor.

Budgets Sliced in Half for Best Picture Nominees
The average budget of the top eight Best Picture nominees at the 87th Academy Awards was about $20.3 million, which is less than half of the $40.7 million average budget from last year’s nine Best Picture nominees. While the severe reduction may be an aberration, we can’t deny that “star power” is at an all-time low these days, so A-list actors are making less than they were five years ago, and studios are taking advantage of it.

Characters With “Challenges” are Locks for Oscar Gold
It’s no secret playing a mentally or physically challenged charter well will almost certainly garner an Academy Award Nomination, and often times result in a win (i.e. My Left Foot, Rainman, A Beautiful Mind, The King’s Speech). This year, both lead actor winners played characters with challenges. Julianne Moore won her first Actress in a Leading Role Oscar on her fifth nomination for Still Alice, a story of a woman who is afflicted with Alzheimer’s’. Furthermore, Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Stephen Hawking struggle with ALS in The Theory of Everything earned him an Actor in a Leading Role Oscar on his first nomination.

Hollywood Likes Honoring Films with Hollywood Themes
Three of the last four Best Picture winners, The Artist (2012) Argo (2013), and Birdman (2015), were all Hollywood themed stories. Thus, now may be the time to dust off that film-industry glamorizing screenplay of yours and try to get it made.

Fun Facts from the 87th Annual Academy Awards

  • At $37,750,892, Birdman became one of the lowest-grossing Best Picture winners of all time. In the last forty years, only The Hurt Locker, made less as a Best Picture, with $17,017,811.
  • Birdman was the first Best Picture winner since Ordinary People (1980) not to have been for Achievement in Editing.
  • Best Picture nominee American Sniper has earned $320,009,625 domestically, which is greater than the domestic total of all seven other Best Picture nominees.
  • This years Academy Awards telecast drew 34.6 million viewers, which is down from 40.2 million last year. Subsequently, only two Oscar telecasts drew smaller audiences; 2008 wrangled 33 million viewers, while 2003 drew 32 million.
  • Okay friends; that are what I have for you today. As always, I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. Until then, I wish you a tremendous week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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