The Oscars cost how much?

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Red carpets, high end designer outfits and tear-jerking acceptance speeches. Yes, it’s Oscars season again. The glitz and glamour of the event, however, comes at a cost. Everything from the $900,000 set to the tightest six-figure security to the $20,000 chocolates. 

A year after Gravity swept the board with seven awards, and 12 Years a Slave picked up the best picture gong, the world’s leading actors will rally in glamorous fashion once again at the illustrious show this weekend.

The highlight of a peculiar year in the film industry included Transformers: Age of Extinction becoming the only film of 2014 to cross the $1 billion mark while also receiving seven nominations, including Worst Picture, by the Academy Awards’ evil twin the Golden Raspberry Awards.

Denzel Washington defied the alleged expectations of Sony executives by leading The Equalizer to $200 million in revenue worldwide. Film fans gravitated towards fantasy movies with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies earning $805m, more than three times the production budget, and superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy returning £757m.

On the other side of the fence, A-listers Cameron Diaz, Johnny Depp, Seth MacFarlane and Sly Stallone all had box office stinkers over the past 12 months. But arguably the biggest flop was Paul W.S. Anderson’s volcano drama Pompeii starring Kiefer Sutherland. Having spent more than $98m on making the film, it only returned a slim $23m. However, Pompeii didn’t erupt quite as badly as 2013 fantasy action film 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves, which is the biggest box office flop in history, losing over $148m.

For the select few movies in with a chance of winning a $500 gold-plated pewter statue, the rewards include increased revenue for their films.

This year American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Birdman, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash will fight it out for the Best Picture. Historically, Best Picture winners earn an extra $14m in box office revenue. Furthermore, Hollywood talent agents say winners of Best Actor and Actresses awards earn a 20% boost in pay in future films.

A nomination alone allows films to capitalise financially with increased promotion globally and movies staying in cinemas longer, boosting box office receipts and DVD and streaming revenue. Between 2007 and 2010, movies that were nominated but did not win averaged an additional $20m before the awards and $3-5m afterwards.

The prestige associated with the Academy Awards over the past 20 years has seen the event morph into more than just an award-giving ceremony, with musical performances. While the official ceremony can cost up to $45 million, the Los Angeles Economic Development Council reports that the Oscars contributes around $129m into the Hollywood economy each year.

As one of the few non-sports brands to attract a stellar list of advertisers and sponsors, commercial time nearly sold out by the end of October despite costing companies $1.65m per 30-second spot for this year’s 87th Academy Awards.


Jermaine Haughton is a journalist and digital media professional.

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