Perhaps the axiom is true, at least for finalists: When it comes to the Academy Awards, being nominated really is the honor.
For studios, though, nominations mean dollars.
And while this year's crop of best-picture nominees hasn't experienced the sharp "Oscar bump" at the box office of years past, analysts say that's because most of the movies already over-performed.
All nine nominated movies remain in theaters nationwide, though they have grossed an average of just $8.3 million per film since nominees were announced Jan. 16, according to Box Office Mojo. Compare that with last year, when the nine movies averaged a bump of nearly $36 million. The year before, the average boost was $9.6 million.
Analysts point out that there's more than a month to go until the March 2 Oscars, so averages will rise — though no movie has been a post-nominations phenomenon like 2012's Silver Linings Playbook, which did $71 million in sales after its best-picture nod.
Among this year's slate, American Hustle has seen the biggest bump, doing more than $24.1 million since the nominations to bring its overall gross to $128.7 million. The smallest increase is that of Captain Phillips, which has done $1.3 million since being nominated, lifting its total to $106.3 million.
Of the films that stand to profit most from Oscar gold, it could be R-rated 12 Years a Slave, the drama that's done $5.1 million since its nominations despite expanding to 1,200 theaters.
"That's a tough movie to sell at the multiplex, particularly repeat viewing," says Jeff Bock, box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "But it's already done great business ($44.2 million overall). And if it wins best picture, you'll see a big jump."
Paul Dergarabedian, chief analyst for box-office firm Rentrak, says that four of the movies — Hustle, Phillips, Gravity ($261.8 million) and The Wolf of Wall Street ($100 million) — have already crossed nine digits at turnstiles. And small-budget nominees such as Dallas Buyers Club ($21 million) and Philomena ($26.2 million) have done well, relatively speaking.
"Six of the nine movies opened in less than 20 theaters," he says. "That's impressive slow and steady growth. These movies are in a marathon, not a sprint."
NOMINEES DON'T FEEL USUAL JOLT
Films normally get a boost at the box office after they receive Oscar nominations for best picture. But with just over a month to go before the March 2 awards ceremony, this year's crop has seen mostly modest increases since the nominees announcement Jan. 16.
$5.4 million in box-office gross since nomination
$261.8 million total box-office gross
$24.1 million since nomination
$128.7 million total
$1.3 million since nomination
$106.3 million total
The Wolf of Wall Street:
$17.8 million since nomination
$100 million total
12 Years a Slave:
$5.1 million since nomination
$44.2 million total
$3.7 million since nomination
$26.2 million total
Dallas Buyers Club:
$4.1 million since nomination
$21 million total
$9.4 million since nomination
$19.8 million total
$3.7 million since nomination
$12.3 million total
Source: Box Office Mojo