Wide-Open Best Picture Oscar Race Costing Studios A Fortune

By Sean O'Connell 2013-02-18 12:14:46discussion comments
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Say what you will about this year’s Oscar race, but the lack of a legitimate frontrunner has injected some mystery into what normally is a forgone conclusion, and that uncertainty in the Best Picture race has led to “one of the most expensive Oscar races ever.”

That’s what Oscar columnist Steve Pond of The Wrap claims as he writes of this year’s contest, which concludes on Sunday with the telecast of the Academy Awards. Pond repeats what others have realized – that the absence of Ben Affleck in the Best Director category suggests that Argo is not a lock to win the Best Picture Oscar, leaving the door slightly ajar for other films that think they have a shot at stealing the BP prize at the end of the evening. At the moment, it seems like Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty and even Life of Pi have very good chances of upsetting Argo, which feels like the frontrunner at the moment. And studios are spending what Pond calls “big expenditures” to try and make a lasting impact in the final minutes of the lengthy Oscar race.
“You get TV ads that are clearly aimed at Oscar voters, not moviegoers, with filmmakers and cast members trotting out talking points in between film clips. And making-of specials, and press releases … [and] constant ads in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Hollywood trades (including TheWrap). On Saturday, for instance, one Silver Linings Playbook ad in the Los Angeles Times featured a quote from Roger Ebert not about the film's quality, but it's awards chances: "For Best Picture, more and more, from many different quarters, I hear affection for 'Silver Linings Playbook' … I sense a groundswell."

Pond quotes Oscar ad campaign veterans as estimating that studios in the race are spending “more than $10 million” on this year’s competition. He goes on to break down the unofficial slogans of each campaign, but the bigger questions I’d like answered are, “Do these ads work?” and “Are they worth the money?” Does a film like Silver Linings generate that much more in tickets or DVD revenue if it wins an Oscar as opposed to just getting the nomination? Are you inspired to see a movie based on its Oscar performances? Or would you rather see studios spend that money on the development of additional films, instead of throwing money at a statue honoring a film that’s already in theaters? It’s an interesting conversation. Continue it below.
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