These 4 Companies Are Cashing In On Oscar Buzz

Oscar StatuettesNews Corp.

News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA) (NASDAQ:NWS) owns Fox Entertainment Group, which is the parent company of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, which is the distributor for, among many other films, Lincoln. Heard of it?

Lincoln had an estimated budget of $65 million, and as of December 30, 2012, had grossed over $132 million. All things considered, that’s a tidy profit right there. Sweetening the deal is an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

Like the Golden Globes, the Oscars are more than the recognition of artistic achievement. They are a blazing badge of endorsement from a discerning consumer group that says: “Hey, everyone, this movie is worth spending a few bucks on.” When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shines a positive light on a movie, sales inevitably go up, and stay in theaters longer.

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The films get a “nice little bump,” according to Phil Contrino, editor of Boxoffice.com. Contrino wrote an article pegging Lincoln as one of the films with a lot to gain from the Oscar nomination, particularly because the film has yet to be released in key overseas markets such as Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom (which everyone knows is just dying to see a film about the American Civil War.)

Contrino thinks “$175 million looks like a sure thing,” given the nomination.

Life of Pi can also be traced back to News Corp., and has also received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The film had a budget of $120 million, double Lincoln‘s, but has also grossed nearly $400 million worldwide so far, helped along by its availability in 3D, which demands a premium on ticket prices.

Rounding out the good news for Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is Beasts of the Southern Wild, a fantasy-drama film about a flood in the Louisiana bayou, nominated for four Oscars and, despite its indie status, pulling in $11.2 million in ticket sales so far. The low-budget, under-the-radar film could get a huge boost from the nomination, especially from its lead actress, Quvenzhané Wallis, who at nine years old is the youngest actress to be nominated in the Actress in a Leading Role category. That should certainly stir up some attention.

Sony Corporationzerodarkthirty

Sony owns Sony Pictures (NYSE:SNE), which owns Sony Pictures Classics, an art-house film division that specializes in documentaries, independent films, and art films. This little division is the distributor behind Amour, a French-language film about a retired music teacher and her husband struggling with bad health — that was nominated for five Oscars.

This film perhaps has the most to gain from the quintuple Oscar nod. Amour has grossed just $340,700 in the U.S. so far. How can you tell that it has star potential? Besides the nominations, it has grossed over $13 million overseas. It’s a growth story waiting to happen.

Sony is also the distributor behind Zero Dark Thirty, which Sony has brilliantly planned to expand into 2,400 locations on Friday, just one day after Oscar nominees were announced. This, of course, is Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and was sure to get at least a few nods (it got five). The film has a worldwide gross of over $6.2 million so far, having only been released on December 19 in limited theaters.

Big bucks, Sony, you’ve got big bucks coming your way.

Time Warner Inc.lesmis

Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) owns Warner Bros., and Warner Bros. is the distributor behind Argo. Ben Affleck’s film cost as much as $80 million and so far has a worldwide gross of over $177 million. It was also nominated for seven Oscars. (Not bad, Tony Mendez, not bad at all.)

Comcast Corporation

Universal Studios is a subsidiary of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), and is the distributor for Les Misérables, which is probably the single most talked-about film in theaters (sorry, The Hobbit — which, by the way, was nominated for three Oscars: makeup and hairstyling, production design, and visual effects).

Les Misérables cost about $100 million to make and, since its release on December 25, has grossed $187 million worldwide. Contrino, from Boxoffice.com, thinks $300 million is in the bag. This film took the Oscar cake with eight nominations.

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