"The Artist" Won Best Picture, But Does That Mean Anyone Will See It?

by Nathan Pippenger | February 27, 2012

“The Artist” was the favorite at last night’s Academy Awards: In addition to winning the Oscar for Best Picture (the only silent film to win since the ceremony’s very first year), the movie also snagged the awards for Best Director and Best Actor. But even though it was the favorite among the Academy types, “The Artist” is probably unfamiliar to many moviegoers: It didn’t even come close to being a top-grossing film last year. Will last night’s big win translate into bigger business for the movie?

A 2008 study suggests that “The Artist” will indeed profit from winning at the Academy Awards, but not as much as you might think. As an independent film, “The Artist” actually gains the most competitive advantage from prizes awarded not by peers, as the Oscars are, but by experts—the Golden Globes, the National Society of Film Critics awards, and the like. Especially surprising was the authors’ finding that, when it comes to mainstream movies, “consumer” awards (like the MTV Movie Awards) are about as effective as expert and peer awards at bringing new customers to the movie theatre. Or, as they write, “Apparently, winning an Academy Award is not perceived by the mainstream movie-going public as a more credible cue than winning consumer-selected awards such as the MTV Movie Awards.” Kind of makes you wonder what all the pomp and fuss were for. 

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