When I was a kid in in Overland Park, Kansas, a somewhat uppity, and painfully conservative suburb of Kansas City, I spent my nights watching “The Benny Hill Show,” with the volume low, so my parents wouldn’t realize I was watching late night TV on a school night. My favorite skit was when Benny Hill played a professor who wrote the word “assume” on a blackboard and then told his students not to assume things, because doing so made an “a*s” out of “u” and “me” (a*s-u-me). Thus…just when you thought it was safe to assume “Argo,” and other Oscar winners will get most of their financial bump from increased box office receipts, new technology has smacked that assumption square in the face.
This year, “Argo” is utilizing new technology to drive its post-Oscar sales, which is a vast departure from how other “Best Picture” winners have enjoyed their post-Oscar success. So, today we’re examining how “Best Picture” winners have gone from banking on a bump on the silver screen to hoping for a point and click on your computer screen. While DVD and VOD sales don’t have the cache as the box office, money is money, and it doesn’t matter where you make it – as long as you do.
Oscar Winners By The Numbers (1990-2009)
From 1990-2009, “Best Picture” winners had an average bump of $14 million. Films that won “Best Director” Oscars during gained $11 million at the box office, while “Best Actress” wins were worth $2.3 million and “Best Actor” added $1 million.
Recent Winners Enjoyed Larger Box Office Increases
Of the past five “Best Picture” winners prior to “Argo,” 35.6% of their box office came after they were nominated, while 21.7% came after they won the Oscar. Furthermore, the average budget of those winners was $17 million, with the average box office income of about $82 million, a 485% increase.
“The Artist” and “The King’s Speech” Skewed Recent Results
Two of the previous five “Best Picture” winners, “The Artist,” (2011) and “The King’s Speech,” (2010), far outperformed their anticipated post-Oscar boost. “The Artist” increased its sales by 41%, and “The King’s Speech” (2010) earned 42% of their income after their win. Remember, “The King’s Speech” made $138,797,449 domestically, and $292,023,717 abroad, totaling $430,821,166. The film also earned $31,841,200 on DVD.
Splintered Oscar Wins May Splinter Post-Oscar Boosts
One interesting development from this year’s Oscars is that no film dominated the win total. ”Life of Pi” led the winners’ bracket with four golden statutes, “Argo” and “Les Miserables” won three apiece, and “Django Unchained,” “Lincoln” and “Skyfall” each won two. Thus, this year, no film has earth-shattering momentum to capture a huge post-Oscar bump. That may result is lesser “per picture post-Oscar gains,” because the gains will be divided by several winners vying for the same consumer dollars.
“Argo” Banks on New Technology for its Best Picture Bump
“Argo” is embracing new technology and ancillary markets to drive its post-Oscar success. Hell, I even saw “Argo,” on a plane on my way to Berlin last month. Furthermore, it was released on DVD and VOD on February 19, five days before the 85th Academy Awards on February 24th. While “Argo” is expected to thrive in those mediums, we may not ever know how well it actually does, because studios don’t usually report their income from VOD and Pay-Per-View. However, the fact that those studios are concentrating on new technology to drive their post-Oscar income, tells us that “what’s next has turned into “what’s now.”
On that note, “what’s now” is the end of today’s column. As always, I thank you kindly for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.