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20 facts Oscar doesn't want you to know

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: February 19, 2015 - 3:26 PM
Cate Blanchett at the red carpet in the 2014 Oscar gown that cost -- HOW MUCH???!!! Photo: Associated Press

Cate Blanchett at the red carpet in the 2014 Oscar gown that cost -- HOW MUCH???!!! Photo: Associated Press

The Academy Awards are a battle royal not only amid performers and filmmakers, but between sources desperate for attention and insiders wanting privacy. Many a question about the competition receives a routine “Mind your own business.” Thanks to the efforts of several publications digging into movie data and statistics, however, it’s become harder for Oscar to keep all his secrets. Here are 20 behind the scenes insights to carry you through Sunday’s mêlée. (Special thanks to Stephen Follows, creator of the movie data site stephenfollows.com, and sources Variety; Los Angeles Times; The Guardian; Huffington Post; awards-tracking website goldderby.com and boxofficemojo.com.)

1) Oscar voters are 94% white, 77% male with a median age of 62. 

2) In recent years November or December releases account for 56% of best picture nominees. Most winners tend to be released in October and November. In the Oscars’ 86 year history only 22 best picture winners have been released between January and July. July has never produced a best picture-winning film. 

3) The cost of a best picture winning Oscar campaign is around $10 million in elaborate packaging, publicists, and parties.

4) Half the money spent on Oscar campaigns goes to advertising.

5) A Page One ad in the L.A.-based entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter during Oscar season costs $72,000.

6) "Crash," 2005's surprise best picture winner spent $250,000 distributing DVD screeners to the entire membership of the Screen Actors Guild.

7) Average price of a DVD mailer: $3. 

8) It costs an average of $3,500 to prepare a Hollywood actress for the red carpet. Cate Blanchett’s Armani Prive ensemble with diamond jewels cost approximately $18 million.

9) Oscar nominated films earn an average of $12.7 million more than films not nominated

10) A best picture Oscar (occurring at the end of a film’s theater release cycle) is worth $3 million in increased box office gross.

11) A Golden Globe (occurring earlier) is worth $14.2 million.

12) The non-financial benefits to studios of an Oscar best picture are worth $7 million.

13) Best actor winners can expect a $3.9 million salary increase.

14) Best actress winner salaries receive an extra $500,000. 

15) Just four movies have won the best picture Oscar without also receiving a best director nomination:  "Wings" (1928), "Grand Hotel" (1932), "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) and "Argo" (2013). 

16) Oscar nominees tend not to dominate ticket sales. The nine films up for 2014 best picture ranked 6th to 117th in the 2013 U.S. box office chart.
6th – “Gravity” (total gross: $274 million)
17th – “American Hustle” ($150 million)
29th – “The Wolf of Wall Street” ($116 million)
32nd – “Captain Phillips” ($107 million)
65th – “12 Years a Slave” (best picture winner, $56 million)
80th – “Philomena” ($37 million)
94th – “Dallas Buyers Club” ($27 million)
98th – “Her” ($25 million)
117th – “Nebraska,” ($17 million)

17) Dramas are most likely to be nominated and to win, though in the last decade the genre has seen a decline. Romance, the most popular when the Oscars began in the late 1920s, now receives fewer nominations, despite a brief revival in the 1990s with “The English Patient” (1996), “Titanic” (1997) and the part love story “Forrest Gump” (1994). 

18) Public relations consultants for film studios earn from $10,000 to $15,000, with bonuses of $20,000 for each nomination or win.

19) Hollywood spends approximately $150 million dollars annually to win an Oscar. 

20 ) Cost  to manufacture an Oscar:  $400. 

Oscar winner Marisa Tomei's back in town (this time on screen)

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: February 12, 2015 - 2:36 PM

Marisa Tomei and Hugh Grant in "The Rewrite." Photo: Lionsgate

Marisa Tomei and Hugh Grant in "The Rewrite." Photo: Lionsgate



Marisa Tomei came to the Twin Cities for a longish stay twice in the last 24 years. She returns Friday at least in film form, co-starring with Hugh Grant, J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney in “The Rewrite,” a light, charming comedy showing at AMC Arbor Lakes.

She last visited Minneapolis in 1992 to make “Untamed Heart,” a four-Kleenex weepie with Christian Slater, where they played soulful, lonely restaurant workers in a bittersweet romance. She was just a year off winning the Oscar for her hilarious turn in the legal comedy “My Cousin Vinny” as Mona Lisa Vito, a witness so lovely that lawyers kiss her hands in the courtroom. That seemed like the perfect time to take a role that required her to march across piles of Midwestern snow.

“I really did love Minnesota,” she said in a recent phone call. “A lot. I always did want to go back there,” even though she was filming in the winter. 

“It was so beautiful and I really, really, really loved the people. They’re very open-minded, people who just seem really awake, really conscious. I didn’t really know what to expect, because it was a long time ago. I was really young and hadn’t really thought about them when I got there. “

“I just felt like, ‘These are my people!’ I thought I’d so like to be there in the spring,” Tomei said. It wasn’t until 2005 that she came back to shoot in Minneapolis in short sleeve weather. She starred in the funny and grim comedy/drama “Factotum.” She was good in the role of a wealthy barfly, drinking alongside Matt Dillon as he played an unkempt version of novelist Charles Bukowski.

In “The Rewrite,” Tomei plays a lead role as a bright adult student in a college class being taught by Grant’s character, a cad whose Hollywood career is on the skids. Writer/director Marc Lawrence, who made “Two Weeks Notice,”  “Music and Lyrics” and “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” with Grant, felt that Tomei would make his ideal costar. What pulled her in was “that everyone loves Marc Lawrence, he’s so passionate and easygoing and very, very collaborative,” and the chance to play against Grant.

“To be able to do every scene with him was just totally exciting. He’s one of the greats, the best dance partner you could ask for. When you get in the zone with him you feel like you’re flying.“

Equally attractive, she said, was playing “a role that doesn’t require overthinking.” Tomei, who began her career at age 20 in the 1984 horror spoof "The Toxic Avenger," has spent the last three decades making a staggering variety of movies. She has combined iconic dramas like “The Wrestler” and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” with studio-backed comical fare like “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and indie romps like “Cyrus,” where her manipulative grown son, played by Jonah Hill, tried to sabotage her affair with John C. Reilly. Her multiple next projects are equally mixed. “Loiter with Intent,” currently in limited release, puts her and Sam Rockwell in romantic comedy territory, while the upcoming “Let it Snow” is a Christmas satire with Diane Keaton and John Goodman.

“It really depends what comes up and sails over," she said. "I’ve been around for a long time, so I’ll just take whatever is up. I really don’t have much control over what comes my way. Whatever is around. The way it works, I’ll go for whatever’s around.”

Ssssh! Quiet, we're filming

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: February 5, 2015 - 12:31 PM

The documentary "The Measure of All Things" features people, places and things that are world-record holders, including Christine "The Dutchess" Walton above for -- obviously -- longest nails.

Sam Green’s film “The Measure of All Things,” showing at Walker Art Center on Friday night, is a documentary about some of the quirkier world-record holders around.There's also a local connection: the anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs, used to test product noise levels. At less than minus-9 decibels, it holds the title for quietest place on Earth.

“People think it’s deep in a forest in Chile or something, but no, it’s in Minneapolis,” Green said. So don’t the sounds made by shooting a movie defeat the purpose of portraying the most silent place ever? “Yeah, that was the challenge,” he said. When he was in the chamber with lab owner Steve Orfield, he heard a clicking noise. “It was the artificial valve in his heart. I could hear my neck turning. That was kind of gross.”

The documentary, screening Friday at 7 and 9 p.m., has a "live" format featuring narration by Green and an original score performed live by former Minneapolis musicmaker T. Griffin, ex-Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and violinist/vocalist Catherine McRae.

Locally shot 'Public Domain' film picked up by Landmark

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: February 4, 2015 - 2:22 PM

Why is this man smiling? Patrick Coyle's movie "Public Domain" has been picked up by Landmark and will premiere here March 27.

Filmmaker Patrick Coyle’s locally shot “The Public Domain” has been picked up by Landmark, and will get its premiere at the Lagoon on March 27, with more cities to follow based on how well it sells here.

The film is about four strangers whose lives are connected by the 35W bridge collapse in 2007. It has also been tapped to screen at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival in April and the Duluth Superior Film festival in June.

Actor Beau Bridges plans to attend the premiere to see his daughter, Emily Bridges, who plays one of the lead roles.

“The Public Domain” is the second movie to wrap production that has received legacy-amendment public money from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, through a reimbursement program administered by the Minnesota Film & TV board Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota. In order to qualify for up to $175,000, films have to be set in the state and/or have a strong Minnesota focus.

The first project to receive legacy dollars, “The Jingle Dress,” written and directed by William Eigen, is about an Ojibwe family who moves from a northern reservation to Minneapolis. It opens this Friday at St. Anthony Main.

'American Sniper' widow to share her perspective at Beth El Synagogue

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: January 20, 2015 - 2:55 PM
Bradley Cooper received an Academy Award nomination for his role as Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in "American Sniper." Keith Bernstein/AP

Bradley Cooper received an Academy Award nomination for his role as Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in "American Sniper." Keith Bernstein/AP

Both "American Sniper," coming off a near-record breaking $90.2 million opening for the three-day weekend, and "Selma," which earned $26.4 million since opening wide three weeks earlier, are history-based films that deal in myths.

"Selma" triggered criticism for portraying President Lyndon Johnson as a slow supporter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign for black voter rights. Similarly, "American Sniper" has made substantial alterations from its source material, the best-selling memoir by the late Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle. The film shows Kyle fighting a former Olympic marksman in a sharpshooters' battle to the death, though the two never encountered each other in real life. It also created a fictional Iraqi terrorist who murders children with electric drills. Film star, screenwriter and director Seth Rogen on Twitter said it reminded him of a fictional Nazi propaganda film.

Kyle's wife, Taya Kyle, who was interviewed extensively by screenwriter Jason Hall, will share her insights about her husband’s experiences in battle and on the home front, and about the film version of his life story, in an event Feb. 8 at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park.

Jim DeFelice, co-author of "American Sniper," will appear as well at the 7 p.m. event, a part of the synagogue's Heroes Among Us series. Admission is $18 for members of the military, $36 for the general public, $100 for reserved seating and $360 for a VIP meeting with the special guests.

A portion of the proceeds will help underwrite the synagogue’s Minnesota National Guard unit support initiative, benefiting the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, the 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter, and the 204th Area Support Medical Company.

Beth El Synagogue is located at 5225 Barry St. W., St. Louis Park.


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