Top Stories


    Mar 05, 2014

    Best Picture losing box-office magic

    THE good news for 12 Years A Slave: It just won the Best Picture Oscar. The bad news: Winning that golden statuette is not the same as it used to be.

    The box-office bump that traditionally rewarded winners of the Academy Awards' Best Picture prize has not been as assured over the past 10 years, and the size of the boost has been shrinking, according to an analysis by The Business Times.

    Going back 30 years, winners of the top Oscar have mostly enjoyed a bounce in box-office takings immediately after the awards. United States per-day receipts rose 73 per cent on average for Best Picture winners in the two weekends after taking the award, compared to the two weekends prior.

    But the bulk of the gains came before the turn of the century. Before 2002, all but two Best Picture winners saw post-award domestic takings increase. But beginning with A Beautiful Mind in 2002, five of the last 12 winners, excluding 12 Years A Slave, have experienced box-office slumps immediately after the awards.

    The magnitude of the post-award jump has also diminished since 2001. Taking the median impact for every five-year block since 1984, the post-award two-weekend bump for Best Picture films has fallen from 71.9 per cent between 1984 and 1988, to 13.3 per cent between 2009 and 2013.

    Part of that decline is due to changing viewing habits. The rise of DVDs and online services such as Netflix now offer alternatives to movie theatres for audiences, meaning that some of the increased viewership that comes after an award will not result in box-office receipts.

    But the box office is still a major factor for films, said film-maker Tan Fong Cheng of Singapore's home-grown Zhao Wei Films, which has a number of award-winning films in its stable.

    "Box-office receipts are still the main source of revenue for films," she said, noting that winning awards definitely helps a film in terms of the box office. "It helps to raise awareness and visibility of the film."

    The recognition that comes with an Oscar is also not purely a question of economics. "Getting affirmation from your industry peers is always a great honour," Ms Tan said.