‘Schindler’s List’ likely due biggest B.O. boost

“Schindler’s List” will likely benefit the most from Monday night’s Oscar wins. The value of a hefty clutch of Oscars continues to expand as new technologies open new outlets.

Spielberg’s “List” has had the serendipitous union of timing and artistry. It was perceived and shrewdly marketed as a quality film and prime Oscar contender.

However, prior to its premiere, skepticism hung over its commercial prospects. It was a decided long shot that a three-hour-plus, black-and-white film about the horrors of the Holocaust would reach a wide audience.

By Oscar night, “Schindler’s List” had grossed $ 60 million domestically — the figure distributor Universal felt could be reached were it embraced by the critics.

B.O. boost at hand

Boosted by its wins, it seems possible now for the film to do $ 100 million theatrically here and an even greater amount in overseas territory.

No other nominee or winner will experience as great a financial assist.

There’s little question that such films as “The Piano” and “In the Name of the Father” improved their box office as a result of multiple Oscar nominations.

One can add to the list “Scent of Green Papaya” and “Farewell My Concubine” in their U.S. launches, and “The Remains of the Day” and “Philadelphia” with foreign releases more distinctly timed to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences awards.

For a few winners, the Oscar secures their ability to get a foot in the movie house and a niche in the marketplace. But, for a number of reasons, most of the seven other features to carry away Oscars Monday will not noticeably benefit from the honor.

The stature and number of awards given “Jurassic Park” and “The Fugitive” simply cannot compare to respective worldwide grosses of $ 880 million and $ 380 million. Neither film’s success was predicated on awards and their respective worth has pretty much been set on demonstrable popularity.

One can argue a similar case for makeup winner “Mrs. Doubtfire.” And for “The Piano” and “The Age of Innocence,” worldwide theatrical vitality may be largely wrung out, but subsequent video, cable and television life should experience a palpable boost.

Bully for ‘Belle’

Comparatively speaking, foreign-language winner “Belle Epoque” will see the easiest-to-identify Oscar impact next to “Schindler.” For its American audience, the trophy will be the prime endorsement to see a non-English language picture. It is the type of film that generates great word-of-mouth.

Internationally — and there are many major markets that have yet to see the Spanish production — Oscar has traditionally been a financial godsend and often the difference between arthouse and commercial success.

‘Philly’ surprise

The most curious Oscar conundrum has been “Philadelphia.” Like “Schindler,” it was released at year-end to qualify for the awards, but a dire commercial fate was predicted when it failed to achieve that critical mass.

However, when the film went wide in the U.S., it touched an emotional nerve.

“Philadelphia” has recently opened in Europe and demonstrated a comparable emotional/commercial appeal. However, now it will carry the added luster of two Oscars.

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