Can a film’s budget predict the winner of Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards? Let’s take a look at that along with the other awards to see if we can accurately predict who will take home the Best Picture Oscar tonight!
9 films have been nominated, ranging from futuristic alien invasions to real life history coming out from hiding and everything in between, but there will only be one winner. This year, the budget to complete these films are as varied as the films’ topics; $5M to $47M. “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea” were both completed for around the $5 million mark, bringing in approximately $21M and $46M, respectively. The bigger budgeted films, “Arrival” and “Hacksaw Ridge” required $47M and $40M, respectively and pulled in $100M and $66M, respectively. The winner with the greatest bang for their investment buck so far, however are the Hollywood darlings, “La La Land” ($30M to produce and grossing $343M) and “Hidden Figures” ($25M to produce and grossing $148M). That leaves “Fences,” “Lion,” and “Hell or High Water” smack dab in the middle of production and income. Looking at the profit margin, it looks like “La La Land” is the front runner.
But it’s not just box office receipts and cost of production of the film that weighs into this. This is a serious game of cat and mouse— the winner has boasting rights of saying their company produced and/or distributed an Academy Award winner. The cost is much higher than you might realize. Oscar campaigns, according to E! Online can cost as much as $25M with an average cost of $10M for the coveted little bald man. This is a costly game comprised of special dinner and cocktail parties, press junkets and sending every Academy voter and anyone with a voice to create buzz, a DVD. “Crash” spent over $250k just in DVD mailers a few years ago! The question is now, which film had the money to back this type of buzz? Distribution companies are very tight-lipped when it comes to revealing how much they have spent in marketing and publicity just for Oscar, but the deep pockets appear to be Lionsgate with “La La Land” and Amazon with “Manchester by the Sea.”
Winning awards from the big organizations such as the BAFTA, Golden Globes, and SAG also help create buzz. Where does each film fall in this category? So far, the big budget films haven’t even gotten on the scoreboard: “Arrival,” and “Hacksaw Ridge” = 0. “Hell or High Water” couldn’t make the cut either with these three awards events. “Hidden Figures” sneaks in with 1 win (SAG) and both “Lion” (BAFTA) and “Moonlight” (Golden Globe, SAG) have a score of 2. “Manchester by the Sea” has 3 (Golden Globe, BAFTA) and “Fences” has 4 (SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe). The clear winner with this is “La La Land” with 12, winning 1 SAG Award, 5 BAFTA Awards, and 6 Golden Globes.
When you put it all together, all three prediction techniques point to “La La Land” as being the clear winner. While there have been 683 new members to the voting membership of the Academy (46% female, 41% non-white), it’s still quite clearly lead by older, white males. “Moonlight,” given its topic matter may not have even made it to the Oscar consideration table prior to this change, but given the statistics, it is certainly an underdog. Time will soon tell as the Academy Awards ceremony is just a couple of hours away!