Who needs an Oscar? Hollywood basks in industry's comeback

Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:13am EST
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By Ronald Grover

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The moguls of Hollywood might engage in more backslapping than usual at Sunday's Oscars, and it won't necessarily be over those golden statuettes.

The tuxedoed movie studio chiefs can boast about an unusually large number of blockbuster films in 2012 that lifted ticket sales for the first time in three years and stemmed a seven-year free fall in sales of DVDs and other home entertainment products.

But they can also show crucial progress on their home entertainment strategy, digital downloads and social media, plus lucrative long-term content deals with new players on the scene.

Tinseltown might just be striking the right balance between making what people want to see, getting it to them in a way that works and letting them share their buzz over social media.

Hollywood is a famously cyclical business that can hit a slump even in the best of economic times. But the recent spate of hit-making has put the industry on a high.

Take "The Avengers," a mashup of Marvel comic super heroes released by Walt Disney Co, that pulled in $623 million in domestic sales and was one of the five 2012 movies with ticket sales of more than $300 million, an industry record, according to the box office unit of Hollywood.com. The movie cost about $220 million to make.

Two other films - Warner Brothers' first Batman movie in four years "The Dark Knight Rises" and Lionsgate Entertainment's "The Hunger Games" -- each topped $400 million, more than any film released in 2011.

These three films won't get much attention at the Academy Awards on Sunday and only "The Avengers" garnered a nomination, for Best Visual Effects. But in a another sign of Hollywood's winning year, six of the nine competitors for Best Picture hauled in at least $100 million apiece at U.S. and Canadian theaters.   Continued...

A woman poses for photos along the steps leading to the Dolby Theatre, the site for the 85th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 21, 2013. REUTERS/Adrees Latif