Date: 25th February 2004

Oscar box office boost diminishes

Films nominated for Sunday's Oscars have received a smaller boost at the US box office than in previous years.
The five best picture nominees collectively received an extra $58.9m (31.2m) in box office takings in four weeks after nominations were announced.

Last year grosses rose by $109.5m (58m) thanks to the "halo effect", said the Hollywood Reporter trade paper.

Sony Pictures distribution chief Jeff Blake blamed the fact that four 2004 nominees were released before December.

"It's usually the film that is just going into wide release early in its run that benefits from nominations, like Chicago or Traffic," he said.

The only film that really followed that formula this year was Big Fish (2003) which began with a limited December release and then expanded in January."

Seabiscuit (2003), which opened in July last year, had already taken $120.2m (64.2m) by the time its run ended in early December.

Lost in Translation (2003), which had its debut in September, had taken $34.7m (18.5m) before being nominated. After its four nominations, it climbed to $43.2m (23.1m).

Master and Commander (2003), which came out in November, had made the bulk of its fortune, $85.2m (45.8m) before getting its 10 nominations. It took just $6.7m (3.5m) more afterwards.

One film boosted by the nominations was Mystic River (2003) which first appeared in October. Before nominations it had taken $58.8m (31.4m), but it has since increased its fortunes by $20.4m (10.9m).

Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King (2003) had already built up so much steam that the effect of its 11 nominations was almost incidental.

It had taken $337.8m (180.6m) before the nominations and has since picked up another $23.3m (12.4m).

Source: Press Release