With the Toronto Film Festival wrapping up, the film industry is looking at ramping up their Oscar campaigns in the industry's biggest night of the year. As hardcore film buff knows, it takes a lot of hard work to win an Oscar. However, what you may not know is that it also takes an incredible amount of money -- and I mean a LOT of money -- to run one of these campaigns. In fact, sometimes, the price of winning is more than a film's budget.
How Much Does It Cost To Win A Oscar?
Securing an Academy Award isn't cheap. The best picture, best director, best actor and actress, and best support actor and actress are the five most prestigious categories and can add a significant boost to their box office draw. Studios usually spend anywhere between $3 million and $10 million to try to secure votes for Best Picture – and that’s just one category. That’s a lot of money for a statue.
Why Does It Cost So Much?
In the perfect world, an Oscar-nominated movie would win an Academy Award based solely on its artistic merit. But of course, human psychology comes into play and film studios aren't afraid to go out to promote their films and feed large egos.
Some estimates for the total amount Hollywood studios spends on Oscar campaigns range between $100 million right up to $500 million in a single year. That's a lot of money, you might say, so how is it spent?
The biggest percentage of an Oscar campaign budget goes to traditional advertising. Film studios will focus their advertising in areas the academy members live, mainly west L.A. For top films studios aggressively pay through the nose for adverts in the trade press, reminding voters about the merits of their films and the performances of their stars. For example, a front page advert in the Hollywood Reporter in Oscar season is thought to cost up to $72,000.
Then there is the darker side of Oscar nominations. There are a group of Oscar consultants whose job it is to get their films into the minds of Academy members. They are paid between $10,000 and $20,000 a movie but can easily double or triple that fee if the client gets nominated or goes on to win. These people are usually thought of as fixers, and can run whisper campaigns about the competition, focusing on the missteps of their directors and film stars. These whisper campaigns are incredibly effective as they usually get picked up by the mainstream press.
Is It All Worth It?
Of course, in the end, this single question remains: is all the money and time spent worth it? The answer is it's hard to say. Sometimes you can't put a price tag on raising a studio's profile. It may mean that that studio will get first pick of projects and film stars the next year around. However, purely for monetary gain, by some estimates, a Best Picture Oscar win adds only on average $3 million to a film's box office takings, far less than the $14.2 million boost after a win at the Golden Globes. A separate study in 2014 found winning an Academy award boosts the pay of an actor by $3.9 million but actresses see a much smaller $500,000 rise.
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