5 Best Pictures Winners with the Biggest 'Oscar Bump'

By Jill Weinberger and Joseph O'Dell, CNBC.com

The Biggest 'Oscar Bump'

Movie studios can spend millions campaigning for an Academy Award. This isn't just a move to take home a golden statue. Winning an Oscar can translate into big money for a movie studio.
Just how much financial influence can the Oscars have?

According to IBISWorld, the average best picture Academy Award winners between 2006-2010 saw a bump of 22.2 percent (or $20.3 million) in box-office revenue after receiving a nomination and an additional 15.3 percent (or $14 million) following a trophy.

The 2011 best picture winner, "The King's Speech," saw a significant Oscar bump, with 42 percent of its box-office sales coming after its nomination and 16 percent more after it won. Paramount Pictures is hoping for a big bump for Martin Scorsese's high-budget family film "Hugo," which grabbed 11 Oscar nominations but has been underwhelming at ticket sales.

Which movies have seen the biggest boost from Oscar? With data from BoxOfficeMojo.com, CNBC.com looked at box-office sales for best picture winners, comparing revenues before and after their win since 1982. (That's the earliest comprehensive Oscar data available from BoxOfficeMojo.) The movies on the following list are the winners that had the largest percentage of box-office revenue after they were named best picture.

Like several on our list, many films are released on a limited basis near the end of a given year and are not widely released until the following year, and that can have a significant effect on the bump. In some cases, distributors will purposely release movies around nomination time to help maximize the Oscar boost.

See the slideshow: 10 Best Pictures Winners With the Biggest 'Oscar Bump'


Slumdog MillionaireSlumdog Millionaire5. "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008)
Oscar bump: 30.4%
Box office post-award: $43 million
Box office pre-award: $98.3 million
Total box office gross (inflation adjusted): $168.3 million Limited release date: Nov .12, 2008
Wide release date: Dec. 26, 2008

A film from Fox Searchlight, "Slumdog Millionaire" tells the story of a young teen accused of cheating on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." The movie follows the character as he recounts how he learned the answers while growing up in the slums of Mumbai. The story is filled with tales of forced labor, gang run-ins, oppressive conditions, and love.

"Slumdog" saw its wide release only a month before its nomination, and two months before the awards. It was nominated for 10 awards, winning eight, including best picture and director. Over 30 percent of its total gross came after the awards, and 68 percent came after the Oscar nominations. The film screened in over 2,000 theaters after the nominations, as opposed to only 600 beforehand.


AmadeusAmadeus4. "Amadeus" (1984)
Oscar bump: 32.5%
Box office post-award: $16.8 million
Box office pre-award: $34.8 million
Total box office gross (inflation adjusted): $111.7 million Limited release date: Sept .21, 1984
Wide release date: April 5, 1985

Antonio Salieri, the main character in "Amadeus," harbored both respect and hatred for composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The film was written from the perspective of Salieri, now confined in an insane asylum, and recounts his plots and schemes to degrade Mozart and limit his influence as a composer. It was distributed by Orion pictures and starred F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce.

"Amadeus" was nominated for 11 Oscars and took home eight, including for best picture, director and actor (Abraham as Salieri). Approximately 50 percent of its box-office receipts came after the nominations and 32 percent after the awards. The movie wasn't widely released until April 5, several weeks after the Academy Awards.


Million Dollar BabyMillion Dollar Baby3. "Million Dollar Baby" (2004)
Oscar bump: 35.5%
Box office post-award: $35.6 million
Box office pre-award: $64.9 million
Total box office gross (inflation adjusted): $119.7 million Limited release date: Dec 15, 2004
Wide release date: January 28, 2005

Frankie Dunn, played by Clint Eastwood, is an aging boxing trainer with few friends and an estranged daughter. Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) is a down-on-her-luck waitress who pursues a career in boxing, enlisting Frankie to be her trainer. Frankie and Maggie create forge a father-daughter-like bond throughout the film, helping Frankie reconcile with his biological daughter. Maggie is severely injured in a match, causing permanent and life-threatening damage to her spine. While on life support Maggie asks Frankie to pull the plug because she does not want to live in her current existence.

Opening to only eight theaters and expanding to only 147 screens prior to Oscar nominations, "Million Dollar Baby" made just 8.5 percent of its total box-office revenue before its wide release to over 2,000 theaters after its nomination. After its wide release, it made a whopping $56 million and another $35 million post award, accounting for 92 percent of its total box-office revenue.


Schindler's ListSchindler's List2. "Schindler's List" (1993)
Oscar bump: 37.2%
Box office post-award: $35.8 million
Box office pre-award: $60.3 million
Total box office gross (inflation adjusted): $149.6 million Limited release date: Dec. 15, 1993
Wide release date: Feb. 4, 1994

Liam Neeson plays Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who enlists Jews in Poland to work in his factory during World War II. As the war rages on, he expresses deepening concern for the people working in his factory as he sees the crushing policies of the Nazi party.

The movie opened with a limited release in 25 theaters in December 1993, not seeing wider release (in 764 theaters) until February 1994, just days before the Oscar nominations. Post-nomination sales accounted for 69 percent of its box office receipts, 37 percent of which came after its seven Oscar wins, including for best picture and director (Steven Spielberg), in March 1994.


The Last EmperorThe Last Emperor1. "The Last Emperor" (1987)
Oscar bump: 42.3%
Box office post-award: $18.6 million
Box office pre-award: $25.4 million
Total box office gross (inflation adjusted): $87.12 million Limited release date: Nov. 20, 1987
Wide release date: April 15, 1988

The film with the biggest "Oscar Bump" in recent history is Columbia Pictures' "The Last Emperor." The story is a biography of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, an enigmatic leader who yearned for a simpler life away from the responsibilities of power bestowed on him at age 3. The film follows Pu Yi in flashbacks and flash-forwards detailing his life as a shut-in in the Forbidden City. The plot twists from his role as emperor, his exile, his years as a playboy, and his final days as a gardener in the Botanical Gardens of Peking.

The movie won all nine of its academy nominations, which bolstered its box office sales by a whopping 42 percent, or $18 million. Although it only opened in eight theaters during its limited release, the film was screening in 371 theaters prior to its nomination. Its wide release was four days after the awards in April, almost five months after its limited release, screening in 877 theaters. It accumulated 73 percent of its total box office earnings during this time.


See the full list: 10 Best Pictures Winners With the Biggest 'Oscar Bump'


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