Oscar Impact: Best Picture Winner Spotlight Boost in the US and Overseas

Fresh off its best picture victory at this year’s Oscar Awards, Spotlight has gotten a box-office boost both domestically and in foreign markets, where a drama about a sex abuse investigation would otherwise be a hard sell.

Domestic Boost

In the US, ticket sales enjoyed a 140% uptick, taking in $1.8 million last weekend and pushing the North American total to nearly $42 million. That’s particularly impressive considering that Spotlight has been available on home entertainment since February 23.

“It’s a movie that a lot of people want to see in theaters,” said Jason Cassidy, chief marketing officer at Open Road, the indie label that had domestic rights. “It’s a profoundly emotional experience that people respond to when they see it on a big screen.”

The film was the best performing picture or second best performing picture in several complexes. “Spotlight,” an account of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reports on the Catholic Church’s cover-up of wide spread sexual abuse by its priests, also won a best original screenplay Oscar. Its victory over The Revenant in the top category was seen as a major upset.

Overseas, box office has also been robust. The picture closed the weekend with another $5.8 million, an increase of more than 100% from the previous weekend.

Spotlight’s foreign total stands at $33.2 million.

Territory by territory interest was stoked by the awards attention. In the UK, box office results rose 70% to $477,000; in Australia ticket sales climbed 94% to $318,000; in Spain there was a spike of nearly 600% to $567,000, and in Mexico sales leaped 807% to $122,000.

To capitalize on the attention, overseas distributors increased the screen count by roughly 30% as soon as the win was announced, and Entertainment One, which handled foreign licensing and distribution rights for the film and controls several major territories such as Canada and the United Kingdom, quickly arranged to have marketing materials touting the win shipped out to its partners around the globe.

“There’s a lot of awareness about the awards,” said Steve Bertram, president of Entertainment One’s global film group. “The Academy Awards are a global brand and we made sure that the message is resonating in our marketing materials.”  “We were able to mobilize the team, so we were speaking with one voice,” he added.