How the Oscars affected the weekend box office numbers

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Moviegoers want sure bets. Tickets are expensive, theaters can be a hassle, and time is precious. So while some eager types may turn out in droves after a film is nominated for an Academy Award, nine Best Picture nominees can prove a daunting to-do list, and some might want to wait for the slate to be whittled down. That seemed to be the case this weekend, at least, when Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave more than doubled its theater count and boasted a 116 percent increase in earnings.

There are a lot of factors that make analysis tricky in this case. Still, the numbers paint an interesting picture on their own. A certain amount of increased awareness post-Oscars can be assumed, after all. Also, many of the winners have been available on DVD and VOD for some time, implying that there is a solid theatrical draw for prestige award-winners. Let’s take a look at the weekend’s results.

As we mentioned earlier, 12 Years a Slave was the clear victor this weekend among the Oscar nominees. In addition to its Best Picture win, the historical slavery drama also picked up awards for Screenwriting and Best Supporting Actress. Fox Searchlight announced that it would be upping its theater count following the wins, which proved a shrewd strategy. Even though it’s been in theaters for 21 weeks and is available on DVD and VOD, 12 Years earned $2.1 million from 1,065 theaters, bumping its domestic total to $53 million.

Dallas Buyers Club, meanwhile, added 96 locations and got a 43 percent bump after its acting wins for stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. The R-rated AIDS drama earned $618.9K from 312 locations, and, after 19 weeks in theaters has made $26.2 million domestically. It’s also been available on DVD since Feb. 4.

Gravity, arguably the only theatrical must-see, expanded into 44 additional theaters this weekend and experienced a 1 percent increase in earnings with $902K in profits from 384 locations after its 7 wins, including Best Director. But don’t cry for Alfonso Cuarón and Warner Bros.: The space epic is the highest-grossing film of all the nominees by more than $100 million. After 23 weeks in release, Gravity‘s current domestic total is a staggering $271.8 million. It was also released on DVD on Feb. 25.

Cate Blanchett’s Best Actress-winning performance in Blue Jasmine saw a 155.6 percent uptick from its 36 theaters (Sony Pictures Classics added 12 this weekend) and earned $30K. Woody Allen’s film has been in theaters for 33 weeks and made $33.4 million domestically.

Finally, Best Documentary winner 20 Feet From Stardom added 46 theaters (from its previous nine), earned $25K and got a 233 percent boost. The doc has been playing in various forms of limited release (from three theaters to 147) for an incredible 39 weeks.

The other Best Picture nominees began theatrical purges this weekend and boasted percentage drops to fit. In the top 20, American Hustle fell 45 percent, The Wolf of Wall Street was down 44 percent, and Philomena dropped 43 percent.

The post-Oscars box office lesson? Be a winner.


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