By Ronald Grover and Sue Zeidler
Los Angeles Jan 10 News Corp's 20th
Century Fox led the Oscars race among Hollywood studios by
scoring 31 nominations, including best picture nods for both
"Lincoln" and "Life of Pi," setting the stage for the box office
bounces that selected films often get.
The coveted nominations for the 85th annual Academy Awards,
to be held on Feb. 24, will trigger new and frenzied marketing
efforts for the highlighted films, as studios jostle to take
advantage of the buzz before Hollywood's biggest night.
The high scorecard for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp marked yet
another triumph for the media company which has seen its stock
almost double from a panic-driven sell-off in 2011 in response
to a phone hacking scandal that engulfed its British newspapers.
Its Fox film unit earned 12 nominations on Thursday for
"Lincoln," a U.S. Civil War-era movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis
that took home more nominations than any other film. Fox
co-financed the film and distributed it internationally.
"Lincoln" was produced by Dreamworks and distributed
domestically by Walt Disney, ranking third among studios
in nominations, with 17 nods, including 12 for "Lincoln."
Sony Pictures Entertainment, which was second with
24 nominations, earned nods for "Zero Dark Thirty," "Skyfall"
and "Amour," with five nominations each.
Fox also earned 11 nominations for "Life of Pi," among them
best picture, best director and adapted screenplay, while its
Fox Searchlight unit scored four nods for independent film
"Beasts of the Southern Wild," including best picture and best
"We couldn't be more thrilled to have such a diverse range
of films recognized by the Academy," said Jim Gianopulos, CEO
and Chairman 20th Century Fox Film. "And it's been equally
gratifying to see how audiences throughout the world have
embraced these pictures."
Indeed, in a break from years past, several of this year's
best picture nominees were commercial as well as critical
successes. Four of the nominees -- "Les Miserables," "Lincoln,"
"Django Unchained" and "Argo" -- have grossed more than $100
million each in North American ticket sales, an unusually large
number for a best-picture crop.
These films either already are in more than 2,000 theaters
or were there earlier in their run.
"Lincoln" producer Kathleen Kennedy told Reuters this was a
"very healthy indication" for creativity in the movie business.
"I think the wonderful thing about this year is there are
so many really good movies, not just from a story standpoint but
the fact that so many...are doing great business," she said.
"A few years ago many of the people...were frustrated by
the fact that they felt the studio system was not going to make
these kind of projects any more," she said.
Among the day's big misses was Dreamworks Animation
, whose "Rise of the Guardians" failed to score a best
animated feature nomination, against "Frankenweenie," "Wreck-It
Ralph," "ParaNorman," "The Pirates!Band of Misfits" and "Brave."
NOMINATIONS "DO WONDERS"
But for more successful studios, their nominations will spur
more ticket sales, experts say.
"For the right film at the right time, Oscar nominations and
most importantly a best picture nomination can do wonders for a
nominated film's cachet, profile and 'must see' factor," said
Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of
The privately-held Weinstein Co, which is headed by brothers
Harvey and Bob Weinstein and is well-known for its intense
post-nomination marketing strategy, pulled in 16, including
nods for "Silver Linings Playbook," "The Master" and "Django
Last year, Weinstein Co's "The Artist," a film about a
silent-movie star, took home the golden statue for best picture,
generating $44.6 million in North American box office ticket
sales in all. Of that total, 71 percent came in after its
nomination and victory.
The Weinstein Co beefed up its TV ads and increased the
number of theaters showing the movie three days after its Oscar
nomination, to 897 from 662, said movie online site Box Office
Mojo. That number rose to 1,756 a week after it won the award.
"Zero Dark Thirty," a gritty film distributed by Sony about
the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs, is being
shown in only 60 theaters, but will be expanded to about 2,400
theaters on Friday, said Dergarabedian. The film collected five
nods, including best picture and best screenplay, bu t suffered
one of the biggest snubs of the day -- no best director
nomination for Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow.
Adam Fogelson, chairman of Universal, a unit of Comcast
and distributor of best film nominee "Les Miserables,"
said the movie's marketing from the start was aimed to take
advantage of awards season and it has helped.
"We are already on a great trajectory domestically, and we
have indications that people are talking about this film
internationally as well," he told Reuters.
Oscars can also breathe new life into DVD sales.
When Lions Gate Entertainment took home the gold for
"Crash" in 2006, it had already been released in both the
theatrical and DVD markets. Its DVD sales spiked after the
Academy Awards, with Lions Gate selling 17,500 copies of "Crash"
in one day after the Oscars, more than half the previous week's
entire total of 33,000.