Paramount, Sony score big in Oscar nominations

Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:27pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Paramount Pictures garnered 20 Oscar nominations on Tuesday, edging out Sony Pictures to lead Hollywood's studios in Academy Award nods, which could help boost some nominees' box office and DVD sales.

Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc, outgunned the competition with the Western "True Grit," which claimed 10 Oscar nods, and the studio punched up another seven nominations with boxing drama "The Fighter."

The studio also gained three nods for distributing the DreamWorks Animation SKG animated movie "How to Train Your Dragon" and the Marvel Entertainment flick "Iron Man 2."

Sony Pictures Entertainment, a unit of Sony Corp, and its film divisions, claimed 17 nods in the annual contest for Hollywood bragging rights and promotional muscle.

An Oscar nomination can help increase ticket sales by over one-third by winning headlines that capture moviegoers' attention. Moreover, films that have finished their box office runs but are just now selling on DVD see their sales jump due to added promotion.

While that general rule will hold true for leading nominee "The King's Speech," released by privately held Weinstein Co., and other films still in theaters, one twist to this year's Oscar race is several nominees already have been big hits, unlike recent years.

"Really, all of these films that are up for best picture are box office successes, and you don't often see that," said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations Co.

Three movies nominated for best picture on Tuesday have already surpassed $100 million at U.S. and Canada box offices. That pack is led by Disney/Pixar's "Toy Story 3" which sold over $415 million in tickets in those markets.   Continued...