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February 15, 2008

Creative accounting


Words, not numbers, that's how we roll.

But since Oscar planning is now "full-steam ahead" and we'll be spared "the most exotic and entertaining clip show in the history of television," we figure it's a good time to take the temperature of the Academy Awards from the accounting side.

As THR's resident numbers-cruncher Steven Zeitchik reports today, Important Awards Movies aren't so high on the average multiplex monkey's list. We use that term affectionately and self-referentially, by the way. We'll cop to seeing tons of highly-profitable aesthetically suspect movies. "Stomp the Yard?" Loved it!

The five best picture nominees haven't cracked $300 million in domestic boxoffice, the worst showing in nearly two decades, and made up only 3% of the total grosses in '07. ("Juno" is jacking up the curve here with its unexpected $120 million and counting).

Since studios are still spending mightily In Pursuit of Awards for those movies that make modest (or practically no) bank, where's the ROI? Read more about those complicated reasons here.

Somebody is making money here, according to another story in today's THR.

ABC is raking in an average of $1.8 million per 30-second Oscar commercial, up from last year's average of $1.7 million a spot. Blue chippers like General Motors, P&G, American Express, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Dove are throwing down their dollars for the so-called Super Bowl for Chicks.

And a couple of the most noteworthy stats of the day: writers are now working 12-13 hours a day on the Oscar telecast, and there will be 16 songs from "Enchanted" as part of the musical interludes. OK, we cooked the books on that one. See if you can guess where.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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