In a deliberate effort to take ad money out of Hollywood Elsewhere’s pocket, a piece by “agent turned manager turned producer” Gavin Polone about the over-ness of the Oscars appeared in New York magazine on 1.23:
“Any film thought to have a shot at an [Oscar] award has to be released in the late fall or early winter, meaning that almost every film released between January and September is pretty much out of the running. Distributors select the films they think can garner awards and release them during the last quarter of the year all at once, meaning that the holiday season is hugely overserved by prestige projects and all other seasons woefully undersupplied.
“As a result, the Oscars damage the prospects of the very movies they’re designed to promote. If there were no Academy Awards, there would probably be a more even release of quality films throughout the year, making it more likely that additional people would see those films, since most moviegoers don’t schedule their year to make room for increased movie attendance in November and December. Instead, it’s a battle royale for ticket buyers, and too many movies lose out.
“Many in Hollywood would say that the financial reward of Oscars success makes the cost and loss of dignity worthwhile, but the facts indicate otherwise. A detailed statistical analysis of the Oscars’ box-office effect by Boxofficequant.com showed that almost all of the ticket money flowed in after the nomination, not the win. But this is also misleading, since it is difficult to know how a film that was nominated would have performed had it not received a nomination.
“Of course, some people do benefit from the Oscars, aside from publicists, the trade press, the New York and Los Angeles Times (have you ever seen any kind of anti-Oscars article in those publications?), and Los Angeles billboard owners: the individuals who win. Directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, and anyone else with a nomination or a win gets a big bump in pay after being so honored — as much as $5 million, it’s said, for a Best Actor trophy.
“Unfortunately for the payer of this Oscar bonus, there is no correlation between anyone’s winning an award and future box-office success, despite the big deal made about Oscars in marketing campaigns. PopEater‘s Jo Piazza showed that of the top 100 highest-grossing films of 2010, 40 percent of the top twenty featured Oscar winners, while 50 percent of the bottom twenty did. If possessing a statuette was actually worth something, shouldn’t there be some direct correlation between casting an Academy Award winner and higher box office?
“Really, I see no point to any of it, other than the kitschy fun of the spectacle, which, as with the Miss America Pageant, certainly can be entertaining in limited doses. But by the third speech of someone thanking his spouse, agent, manager, psychic, dog walker, and the person who clears his chakras, I am always bored and left wondering why he couldn’t just have a private conversation with the person to whom he wishes to express his gratitude, and then find something more interesting or entertaining to talk about on television.
“Fortunately, the public seems finally to be losing interest. The Oscar broadcast has evidenced a pretty steady decline in audience share since the mid-seventies. Last year, obviously feeling the need to bring in a younger viewership, the Academy hired James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts. The plan didn’t work; there was a 12 percent drop in the 18-to-49 demographic and a 9 percent decrease in overall viewers. Clearly, this is because the audience feels alienated from the choices of nominations and winners, not how they are presented. As with any cultural institution, when the interest and support of the young are lost, it is just a question of when, not if, that institution becomes fully irrelevant. I can’t wait.”