The Oscar-winning movies will get a bump this year, but it will come via DVD and downloads more than at the box office.
That’s in part because this year’s Academy Awards are coming about a month later than normal — pushed to stay clear of the Winter Olympics. By now, many of the Best Picture nominees are already out on DVD, or will be soon.
“This actually might work a little better for the studios, at least for some titles,” said Tom Adams, a home entertainment analyst at IHS, told TheWrap, “because their return on a DVD purchase is better than a movie ticket.”
The timing could be ideal for several of the films, he said, and is no accident.
“The Academy Awards are a major marketing tool for the studios and home entertainment releases just after the show are in great spot to benefit,” he said. “The studios set those DVD dates to maximize their potential.”
Last year’s Best Picture Oscar winner “Argo” added $6 million at the box office after its win, despite having been in theaters since October and coming out on DVD in January, to wind up at $136 million domestically.
Of the three front-runners in the Best Picture race, “12 Years a Slave” looks to have the most to gain, in part because it’s made the least in theaters so far.
Warner Bros.’ “Gravity” came out on DVD Tuesday, and has already been re-released in theaters and was given a second Imax run after the Oscar nominations in January. But it’s already made a major score at the box office, dwarfing the returns of its Oscar rivals with more than $703 million in worldwide grosses.
“American Hustle” won’t be available on DVD and digital platforms until March 18, but has taken in $145 domestically and $229 million globally since opening wide just before Christmas. It’s will be in 945 theaters this weekend, and Sony will keep it there for the three-week window if David O. Russell‘s quirky ensemble comedy cops the top prize.
Fox Searchlight’s “12 Years a Slave” is about to crack $50 million domestically and has added another $79 million abroad since opening in October. Director Steve McQueen‘s slavery saga went out in a fairly wide 1,474 theaters in November. It dropped to less than 200 theaters around the holidays and then went back up to 1,213 theaters in mid-January, after the nominations.
Fox Searchlight distribution chief Frank Rodriguez thinks “12 Years” can capitalize at the box office should it win, even though it will be released on DVD and available for download on Tuesday.
“For whatever reason, I think there’s been a certain reluctance on the part of some moviegoers to give it a shot,” Rodriguez told TheWrap. Some of that may be because the brutal slavery saga is perceived as a tough watch, and a victory might help on that front.
“As those who’ve seen it know, it’s really beautifully crafted, shot, and edited and the story and the whole of the film very much overshadows the violence,” he said. “A win Sunday might validate it in some people’s eyes.”
It will be in about 400 theaters this weekend, and Fox Searchlight will look to jump that number if it wins Sunday, even though it’s out on home entertainment platforms Tuesday.
“We think it’s going to be a very strong DVD title for us, but if the theaters owners think they can make money on it, we’ll be there.” The acting winners could get a boost as well, but the films with the two frontrunners have been available for months.
Sony Picture Classics’ “Blue Jasmine,” which features Cate Blanchett, has been available on DVD since January. Focus Features’ “Dallas Buyers Club,” which stars Matthew McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor nominee Jared Leto, came out on Feb. 4, and Sony’s Tom Hanks thriller “Captain Phillips” heas been available since January.
Of the other Best Picture hopefuls, Paramount’s Bruce Dern black-and-white road trip “Nebraska” came out on DVD earlier this week and the Weinstein Company’s “Philomena,” starring Judi Dench, arrives Tuesday.
Paramount’s “Wolf of Wall Street,” Martin Scorsese’s black comedy about Wall Street excess starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is due out on DVD on March 25. Warner Bros. has yet to set a DVD release date for “Her,” the romantic comedy starring Joaquin Phoenix.