With the Oscar Ceremony taking place on the 27 of February, I thought it would be a good idea to give some advice for future film-makers in how they should market their potential Oscar candidates, or more importantly when.
The people who determine the outcome of the Oscar ceremony taking place on the 27th of February are the 5,700 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscar ballots, which they use to vote on various films in different categories, are sent out on the 27th of December and need to be sent back on the 14th of January, otherwise they will be disqualified.
Does this voting process in anyway affect how movies are released? Of course it does! A year is a long time, and many movies are released throughout the year, and thus it is the Oscar voters responsibility to remember all the movies released that year. However, it easy to forget and once the ballots are sent in they can’t be recalled. That is why if a studio has a movie which they believe has the potential of winning the Oscars they will deliberately delay until Christmas period, in the case the Oscar voters might actually forget the movie.
Think about it, which movies have been released this period. I know it’s slightly different in Sweden because we get everything later than in the U.S. But the movies that have come out recently before new years have been: King’s Speech (November 26 nd), Black Swan (December 3rd), The Fighter (December 10th) and True Grit (December 22nd). Not surprisingly these movies are among the favorites to be nominated. So why now? They release them now to ensure that Oscar voters remember the movie when voting and not actually forgetting them if they were released earlier in the year. Not to appear insensitive but the average age of the Oscar voter is estimated to be around mid to late 50’s.
There is also prestige involved with a studio having their movie nominated, and much more when winning. Also there is something called ‘Oscar boost’ that happens to movies when they become nominated or are clear favorites when speculating. It involves generating sales to movies that wouldn’t normally have attracted an audience unless it wasn’t for the Oscar Buzz it was getting. Take Slumdog Millionaire for example. It was released in earlier November and up until the end of December it had generated around $23 million. However, thanks to the Oscar buzz and eventually winning the Oscars, it managed to generate over $140 million.
But if the period leading up to the new years is considered the period when prestige movies come out, then January is considered the period when all the crap movies come out. Recent movies that have come out in January are Season of the Witch, No Strings Attached, The Dilemma and of course Yogi Bear. If you look at the grades of the movies released prior to new years and the ones after, you will find a big differential.
Finally, looking at statistics we find that movies released in the later part of the year are more likely to win the Oscars: Slumdog Millionaire, No Country For Old Men, The Departed etc. The exception to this rule is last year’s winner the Hurt Locker which was released during the summer.