February 2, 2010 / 9:40 PM / 9 years ago

Film studios look to cash in on Oscar nominations

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sony Pictures led the Hollywood studios in Oscar nominations on Tuesday with 18 nods, but all the studios that made nominated films will likely attract audiences to the box office and sell more DVDs.

Sony Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp, was followed by News Corp’s Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Searchlight divisions, which received 14 nominations.

Hollywood studios rely on Oscar nominations to attract a bigger audience to their movies, often adding millions of dollars in revenue and raising the prestige of their company, which helps them draw top talent for future projects.

For an independent studio like Summit Entertainment, its first nods — nine for Iraq war film “The Hurt Locker” — can give a studio credibility.

“It shows we have the muscle to do all kinds of movies,” said Rob Friedman, co-chairman and chief executive of Summit, which also made the teenage romance vampire films, “The Twilight Saga.”

In past years, brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein have been masters at turning Oscar glory into Hollywood success. This year, even as their Weinstein Co. faces financial troubles, they earned 13 nominations, mostly for “Inglourious Basterds.”

Sony Pictures Classics, the art-house unit of Sony Pictures that released coming-of-age tale “An Education,” also garnered 13 nominations, while its parent Sony Pictures received five.

“It’s something that we worked very hard on, and we’re glad that the academy recognized the films,” said Tom Bernard, co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics. “And we’re positioning the films to hopefully capitalize on the recognition.”


The company plans to expand Oscar nominated film “An Education” to 800 theaters, and widen nominated movies “The Last Station” and “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.”

Bernard said Oscar nominations can increase a movie’s box office revenue by at least a third.

Last year’s best picture winner “Slumdog Millionaire” made $98 million at U.S. and Canada box offices after its nomination, amounting to two-thirds of the total take.

The Walt Disney Co was nominated in eight categories for animated films “Up” and “The Princess and the Frog.” Rich Ross, newly appointed chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, said he wanted to reach the same heights with live-action movies.

“I certainly look forward to a time when not only do we have the most stellar animation in the business, but also add to that nominations for live-action features,” he said.

But it costs money to run a campaign to convince Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters to back a film.

Bernard said Oscar campaign costs range from $1 million to $5 million, to cover such expenses as taking out advertisements in trade papers and sending out mailers to academy members promoting the films.

“Back in the heyday, people spent $40 million on their campaigns, in the mid-90s,” he said. “I don’t think that people are in that mode now” because studios have learned they can lose their profits from an Oscar nomination, by spending too much while campaigning to win.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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