From courting voters to hiring red carpet, the Academy Awards are big business. Heres what they cost, what they earn and how much you need to spend to help secure victory
The campaign ($5-8m)
Getting on to the podium is the first and most difficult step for any film: the competition is intense, and getting more intense by the year. To pull your film out of the swirling mass of product, first, hire a specialist Oscar campaigner. They will have contacts and strategies to get to the Academy voters and crucially know the rules. (Lavish party, yes; talking down other films, no). Theres a whole culture of courting the Academy, says veteran publicist Bumble Ward. Academy members can go out for lunch and dinner every single day in the season. That is part of the game: who can you get in the room that will make people want to show up? At the end of the day, we are a talent culture people are still excited to meet movie stars.
Navigating the right path as the film leaves the editing room is vital: from premiering at a gateway festival (Telluride is the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for an Academy movie, says Ward) to organising attention-attracting events, such as the reconstruction of the set of Room in a Los Angeles cinema. Critics still play a key role in achieving Oscar credibility. A good PR knows their press, and knows peoples taste and what they respond to, says Ward. So they will show them the movie first, as they are the people who will talk about the movie the right way.
The costs are borne by the films US distributors, rather than producers; Oscar campaigns are part of the marketing and PR that is already happening for the films general release. Ward says the trick is sustainability rather than the two-week release window that standard film marketing aims at, making a film seem interesting and new and fresh over several months, or a year, is a very hard thing to do.
Here are some of the estimated key costs:
Specialist PR consultant: $10,000-$15,000.
Advertising: $1m before nomination; $800,000 after.
TV commercials and promo: $1.5m.
Talent costs: $900,000, for flying stars to screenings and events, for instance.
Film screenings: around $160,000.
DVD and digital screeners: around $300,000. These are crucial says Ward: As much as everyone says things are better on the big screen, people are intrinsically lazy, and want to watch them at home in comfort over Thanksgiving.
Other awards: $500,000, for Golden Globes campaigns etc, which are treated as part of the wider Oscar campaign. (Estimates via stephenfollows.com)
The show ($44m)
The Academys yearly financial report contains basic details of the costs: in 2016 it spent $44m on the Academy awards and related activities. The figures cover the awards ceremony, and a string of allied events, including the nominees luncheon (cost: $260,000), the Governors awards (for lifetime achievement; cost: $865,000) and the Governors Ball (the Oscars official afterparty; cost: $1.8m). But the live show, on Sunday night, is estimated at $21m-$22m.
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