Winners ready to fly high via Oscars

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Arrivals

“Chicago” should kick its box office heels considerably higher, thanks to Oscar’s trampoline.

The Miramax musical has already hoofed its way past $134 million, but a domestic run of $150 million or more now appears within reach if recent B.O. trends hold true.

Over the past 10 years, Oscar’s best pics have rung up an average 11% in additional domestic grosses after grabbing their statuettes, according B.O. tracker Nielsen EDI.

Of course, even best-pic losers tend to reap some further grosses if they’re still in the marketplace. So, the most telling benefit comes when the best-pic winners mark a week-over-week B.O. gain the weekend after the Academy Awards.

Such bounces are rare for films other than Oscar best pics — for which they’re a near certainty.

“The only exception is a picture that’s already hit the videostores,” EDI exec veep Dan Marks noted. That was the case in 1995, when best pic “Braveheart” squeezed just 2% in extra B.O. from a theatrical re-release, though homevid copies flew off store shelves after its win.

Last year’s winner “A Beautiful Mind” — like “Chicago,” a Christmas release — added another 16% to its B.O. coffers after grabbing the Oscar. But 1993 winner “Schindler’s List” displayed the best recent use of Oscar’s trampoline, with a whopping 36% of its $96.1 million coming after the Academy Awards.

“Chicago” is especially well-positioned for an Oscars bounce, having only recently entered saturation-level release after a platformed campaign marked by fewer than 1,000 engagements through January. Miramax chief operating officer Rick Sands said the studio will now grab as many screens as it can for the pic, which played in 2,565 theaters this weekend.

Winners in other Oscar categories could also see a modest B.O. bounce, EDI’s Marks said.

“The acting awards are a mild boost for the particular films, although they can be big for the careers of the individual actors,” he observed.

Adrien Brody’s shock win for actor — combined with Roman Polanski’s unexpected helming Oscar — should give a nice nudge to Focus Features’ “The Pianist,” which has a $18.6 million cume and 540 current playdates. And Ronald Harwood’s win for pic’s adapted screenplay won’t hurt a bit either.

“The Hours,” with $38 million in the bank and 628 recent runs, will look for new oomph thanks to Nicole Kidman’s win as best actress.

And Sony’s “Adaptation,” toting a $22 million cume with 190 recent playdates, could see new marketplace traction on Chris Cooper’s supporting actor win. (Catherine Zeta-Jones’ supporting actress win was just more icing on the Oscar cake for “Chicago.”)

Elsewhere, Zeitgeist’s German drama “Nowhere in Africa” could get some B.O. bang from its foreign-language film Oscar. Winners in the foreign-pic category “typically expand their run and get more interest from the arthouse crowd and some additional interest from crossover,” Marks said.

“Africa” grossed $112,598 from just 16 theaters last weekend, but it should display screen-grabbing benefits in the Oscar afterglow and add substantially to a $265,081 cume.

And Sony Classics will hope that Pedro Almodovar’s original screenplay win helps its cause in securing continued engagements for “Talk to Her,” the Spanish drama playing in 142 engagements this past weekend. Pic’s cume is $8 million.

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