Record box office for Oscar shorts

Posted by · 1:51 pm · April 2nd, 2010

Early in my Oscar-watching days, long before the advent of YouTube or VOD, the short film awards represented little more than a chance to get ahead in the Oscar pool by sheer guesswork.

With no means of viewing the nominees, and the field of awards coverage considerably less comprehensive than it is today, you’d do well to find out what the shorts were about, much less whether they were any good. In the end, you picked the title that most caught your fancy, and hoped for the best.

For most casual viewers, of course, the short film awards still mean little more than a handy bathroom-break opportunity in the telecast. But for serious awards-watchers, there’s less of an excuse these days to be uninformed: clips of the nominees (and sometimes even the entire films) are readily available online, while Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures have screened an annual program of the nominees in theaters for the last five years.

It would appear that the increased exposure is beginning to pay off. Shorts International today revealed that this year’s Oscar shorts program has just crossed the $1 million mark in U.S. theaters alone, a pretty spectacular result for such a niche medium. Audience numbers are up 52% from last year, and over 1000% from five years ago. As someone who attended the program in London on pre-Oscar weekend and was a little dismayed by the paltry crowd that turned up, this is heartening news.

Coincidentally or not, it also follows a race for Best Animated Short that seemed (to me, at least) to prompt more discussion than usual for a short category; in the admittedly specialized circle of awards geeks, there appeared to be increased awareness of, and even investment in, the old-guard-versus-new battle of “A Matter of Loaf and Death” and “Logorama.”

I know I cheered when the latter emerged triumphant, and not just because it left me sitting pretty in the predictions pool. Seeing the movies beforehand turns a guessing-game into something rather more personal — long may this box office trend continue.

The full press release from Shorts International:

NEW YORK, US, April 2nd 2010 – Today “The OscarĀ® Nominated Shorts Films of 2010” crossed the $1 Million mark at the Box Office. Released annually by Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures, the program was created 5 years ago to give audiences a chance to see all 10 Animated and Live Action OscarĀ® Nominated Shorts in theaters nationally prior to the Academy Awards.

“The short film has gone from the occasional feature film accessory, to the main theatrical event,” said Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive of Shorts International. “Audiences for the Oscar nominated shorts jumped by 52% in the short space of a year and more than 1000% in 5 years…and this is just the beginning. For the first time ever these films are also currently available on cable systems through Movies On Demand.”

“It’s an incredible achievement on so many levels,” said Tom Quinn, SVP of Magnolia. “On average, less than 50 specialized films a year cross the $1M mark, so to see our little program blossom into a big contender is a testament to the quality of these films. It’s even more astounding considering that the marketing budget for the program has been the exact same year in and year out.”

“I’m thrilled that so many people have discovered these fantastic short films, and seeing them with an audience on the big screen surpasses any other viewing experience,” said Bill Kroyer, Governor and Chair of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Short Film and Feature Animation Branch

The program is entering its seventh weekend in selected cinemas across the US. To find a theater near you, visit www.shortshd.com/theoscarshorts. It is also available through iN DEMAND to US cable audiences via Movies On Demand (MOD). This year’s program includes all the nominees as well as the Academy Award winners for best Live Action short, “New Tenants”, and best Animated short, “Logorama”.




→ 9 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

9 responses so far

  • 1 4-02-2010 at 10:55 pm

    Glenn said...

    That’s really great news, actually. Not even world recognised auteurs and buzz-heavy titles can get to $1mil these days!

    And I’m definitely with you on “Logorama” (which I also predicted, it really should’ve been an easy get for anyone who pays attention). Such a great short. I even had it as my desktop background for a while. Fascinating to look at and spot all the logos throughout.

  • 2 4-03-2010 at 5:04 am

    N8 said...

    I also “whoo-hooed!” at the top of my lungs when Logorama won, despite having stubbornly stuck with Wallace & Grommit as my prediction. Seeing the right film win is soooo much more satisfying than guessing correctly.

  • 3 4-03-2010 at 3:34 pm

    Robert said...

    Like everyone else above me, I definitely cheered for Logorama! Such an amazing short, and it’s great to hear that people are finally starting to pay attention to the shorts.

  • 4 4-04-2010 at 10:20 am

    Pete said...

    My beef with Logorama is that it is a one-trick wonder. The novelty of the ironic, sometimes blasphemous, use of corporate logos wore off after a couple minutes. Then the film had no where to go.

    Sure, Wallace and Gromit are somewhat old hat but Nic Park knows how to develop a story with humor and invention.

    Three cheers for Shorts Intl. and Magnolia.

  • 5 4-04-2010 at 11:44 am

    Andrew F said...

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: I hated Logorama. Every smug moment of it. Ugh. I’m with you, Pete: it’s a one-trick pony. But I wasn’t all that amused with its trick.

  • 6 4-04-2010 at 1:43 pm

    Fitz said...

    I’m bummed it has came to town yet, but at this point it probably won’t.

  • 7 4-04-2010 at 3:29 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Fitz: You can look up your nearest screening here:

    http://www.shortshd.com/theoscarshorts.

  • 8 4-06-2010 at 7:43 am

    Kevin said...

    Ditto on Andrew F. I loved each of the other four more than Logorama.

  • 9 4-08-2010 at 8:52 am

    Dean Treadway said...

    I thought LOGORAMA was just as much a commentary on the corporatized product of movies (dumb action, vulgar comedy, etc) as it was about the logos dotting our landscape. That’s where the movie had to go, and I thought it got there smartly and with flair. I love Nick Park, but I was glad he didn’t win for a fifth Oscar. I bet he was, too, in a way.