Hollywood Uplink – February 2006: Oscar Loses His Luster: No Guarantee of Profits

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February 2007

        Issue: 16:2

www.dove.org [email protected]


Oscar Loses His Luster: No Guarantee of Profits
by Dick Rolfe, co-founder – The Dove Foundation

There are many award shows, but the mother of them all is the Academy Awards where they give out the cherished Oscar.

What are the benefits of receiving the golden statue of the bald-headed icon? The name of the recipient and movie are both changed forever. When someone earns a PhD or MD, the title doctor is added to their name. So it is with academy-award winners. The movie title is now extended to, “academy-award-winner, Bla bla bla.” Same is true with cast and crew. A producer is now, “academy-award-wining producer, So-and-so.” With a multiple winner it becomes, “two-time academy-award-winning actress, Cynthia What’s-her-name,” and so on. 

The additional moniker is sure to garner an increased market value for the honored producer, director, actor, cinematographer, choreographer, costumer, set decorator, or special effects creator, etc.  The same is not necessarily true for the movie itself.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that, “Oscar glory does not always equate to profits.” With few exceptions, the box office revenue of an academy-award-winning movie is comparatively poor. The Exhibitor Relations chart on the right makes that clear. The number of 2006 Academy Award nominations has little or no connection to the box office revenues of films receiving those nominations. Disney came in number 4 with about one-half the number of nominations as first place, Paramount. The gross revenues of those Disney movies, however, were 5 times greater than the Paramount titles.

There is no single factor that predicts whether a movie will do well at the box office. The Dove Foundation has developed a pretty good indicator of what types of movies have the potential to be financial successes. There are value points given to

Big Ticket
The number of Academy Award nominations by studio and the North American box office sales for the titles nominated, as of Jan. 22
Studio Nominations Gross*

Paramount 19 158.8
Warner Bros. 18 627.1
Fox 13 326.4
Buena Vista 11 770.2
Miramax 7 35.9
Universal 7 139.1
Sony 6 386.4

Source: Exhibitor Relations Co.
*Numbers in millions

every Dove-approved movie, expressed by the number of Doves awarded to each film. The 2006 movies below with a quality rating of 4-5 Doves have one thing in common. They were all big earners compared to their production costs.
Five-Dove Movies Budget* Box Office* Gross Margin*
Ice Age: The Meltdown $   80 $  648 $  568
Cars $ 120 $  462 $  342
Night at the Museum $ 110 $  413 $  303
Happy Feet $ 100 $  355 $  255
X-Men: The Last Stand $ 210 $  460 $  250
Totals: $620 $2,340 $1,720
*numbers shown are in millions


Compare these with the 2006 top Oscar contenders:

Best Picture Nominees Budget* Box Office* Gross Margin*
Little Miss Sunshine $    8 $  84 $  76
The Queen $  16 $  80 $  64
Babel $  25 $  82 $  57
The Departed $  90 $264 $174
Letters from Iwo Jima $  15 $  41 $  26
Totals: $154 $551 $397
*numbers shown are in millions

Summary: The five highest grossing Dove-approved movies made $1.8 billion more at the box office than the top five Academy Award nominees. The Dove movies had collective gross margins totaling $1.3 billion more than all five Oscar contenders.  The untold story in these statistics is the huge revenues yet to come from DVD sales of the Dove-approved titles.  Let’s face it, families buy more movies on DVD than any other segment of the population.

Not every Dove-approved movie is a great work of art, nor does the Dove Seal guarantee a blockbuster. The making of a successful movie requires a three-way partnership: A filmmaker dedicated to making top quality, wholesome movies; The Dove Foundation making sure that you are aware of them; and you buying a ticket and telling others to do the same. As long as all partners do their part, the entertainment landscape will continue to improve.

The Dove Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Our mission is to encourage and promote the creation, production, distribution and consumption of wholesome family entertainment.  We are supported primarily by donations from families such as yours who want to move Hollywood in a more family-friendly direction.  All donations are tax deductible.
Copyright © 2007 The Dove Foundation. All rights reserved.