NewsWire: Oscar Nominations Boost Pictures - Associated Press

by Anthony Breznican
AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES - Every best picture nominee takes home some form of Oscar gold, even if it's only at the box office or video store.

A Beautiful Mind and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring were already blockbusters before the Feb. 12 nominations but have collected millions more over the past five weeks.

"Everybody wants to catch up and make sure they see all the movies before the Oscars. It's like learning about the horses before the race starts," said Robert Bucksbaum, box office analyst with Reel Source, Inc.

Oscar nominations are often credited with attracting a broader audience to smaller movies, too.

Gosford Park and In the Bedroom had earned far less than their competitors before the announcement -- roughly $22 million and $19.2 million, respectively. Gosford Park, which has seven nominations, has now earned $33.5 million, while In the Bedroom, up for five awards, has $32.3 million.

The figures were released this week by Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc., which tracks the box-office based on data from studios.

Moulin Rouge, the lone best-picture nominee on video, was re-released into a handful of theaters to capitalize on its eight nominations but collected only $148,568, bringing its theatrical total to $57.3 million.

The musical, which debuted on home video and DVD in mid-December, had a $3 million boost the week after the nominations from a 160 percent rise in DVD sales and a 40 percent increase in rentals, according to 20th Century Fox. That brought its video earnings to $70 million.

Since then, however, analysts say the film hasn't benefited as much as its rivals.

"I haven't noticed any major boost, haven't seen it doing any great shakes," said Scott Hettrick, editor in chief of the trade newspaper Video Business.

The Lord of the Rings, the first of a three-part epic based on author J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels, had garnered $271.4 million and was falling fast after nine weeks of release when it claimed a leading 13 Oscar nominations.

Earnings shot up 30 percent the next weekend, and the film brought in $22.9 million over five weeks, driving the film's domestic gross to $294.3 million.

A Beautiful Mind, nominated for eight awards including best picture and actor for star Russell Crowe, had defied some expectations to become a $113 million hit and brought in $12 million more the weekend after the nominations.

The film has earned $35.9 million since the announcement, pushing its total gross to $149.2 million.

"What I'm really enjoying at the moment is we've made a movie about a schizophrenic mathematician and we've taken in over $140 million at the box office," Crowe said at last week's Oscar luncheon. "Now that, to me, says a wonderful thing about the intellect of the filmgoing public."

The Oscars will be presented in a live ABC telecast Sunday in Hollywood.

Winning pictures can expect another box-office boost, while losers traditionally begin to fade from theater marquees.

Last year's best-picture winner, Gladiator, which also won best actor for Crowe, was already on video when it collected its prizes. DreamWorks re-released it into 577 theaters the next weekend and collected $448,000, raising the film's total to $187.3 million.

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