Helena Lyng Blak
11 weeks ago

The price of the Oscar

How much money really goes into winning an Academy Award?
A big collection of Oscar statues lined up.
Faheem Salimullah, Shutterstock

On Sunday, March 10, the 96th Academy Awards - colloquially known as the Oscars - will take place. 

The ceremony awards the very best achievements in filmmaking from the bygone year. However, it is also a truth universally acknowledged that the Oscars are as much a part of a larger Hollywood money machine. 

One that awards good marketing campaigns. One that boosts the income of anyone who can write “Academy winner” above their name in a trailer. 

So can you put a price on an Oscar? What is really the value of that golden statue?

A million dollar production
Let us start by looking at the show itself. Based on the numbers provided in an article by Business Insider, the ceremony comes with a steep price tag: From the celebrities step on to the $24,700 red carpet, wearing jewelry valued in the double-digit million amount to the end of the $56.9 million show, the Academy Awards is not a cheap affair. 

Lady Gaga wearing the most expensive piece of jewelry in Oscar history: A $30 million Tiffany diamond necklace. Photo credit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

Major marketing money
But in order to even get to walk that special, ‘Academy Red’ carpet you need to be nominated (or be an A-lister). And in order to be nominated, the studio behind your movie generally needs to drop some serious cash into an award-oriented marketing campaign. 

In a Bloomberg Original on the topic, writer and Oscar expert Michael Schulman states, “An Oscar campaign can cost upward of $25 million.”

He further elaborates: “There is a whole industry of awards campaigning that surrounds the Oscars.”

In 2016, the BBC cited an estimation that Hollywood spends anywhere between $100 million and $500 million dollars on Oscars campaigns alone each year. 

Today, Netflix alone has earmarked as much as $100 million for Oscar campaigns, says Bloomberg analyst Geetha Ranganathan.

The boosted paycheck
Of course, there are many reasons why an Academy Award win is a dream for many in the entertainment industry. It is a prestigious award, a big acknowledgment, and a way to secure your career in an otherwise fickle industry.

But an Oscar win is also beneficial to an actor’s bottom line. According to Good Housekeeping, people who win Best Actor or Best Actress receive upwards of a 20% pay raise upon winning the award. As per MarketWatch, Jennifer Lawrence doubled her salary after her 2013 win. 


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