For your consideration
| Gabriel |
So the Oscar nominees were announced at dawn this morning and half of the ten best picture nominees had done appreciable box office. Likewise, many of the other categories had nominees from self-important movies that nobody saw like “Invictus.” Of course, the reason we have ten best picture nominees is that the Academy realized that the last few years’ Oscars were of no interest to the average moviegoer because the total box office of all the nominees combined was less than the Kelly Blue Book value of a three year old Honda Civic. You could just see the Academy board of governors thinking, “If only we had nominated ‘The Dark Knight,’ people might have tuned in to see the vaudevillian razzamatazz of Hugh Jackman!” Of course, there are two reasons why Dark Knight wasn’t nominated. One is that “Oscar bait” now has highly stylized genre conventions (like close-ups of Sean Penn looking constipated) which the Dark Knight didn’t meet (it was more interested in being watchable).
The other is that Dark Knight didn’t really need an Oscar nomination as it already made plenty of money and had good word of mouth. In contrast, your classic Oscar bait movie extends its theatrical run and/or sells more dvds after a nomination. Oscars are an essential resource for Oscar bait films, which nobody will watch until they are consecrated. When something is valuable, people tend to pursue it, and hence we have the aggressive “for your consideration” Oscar campaigning, as discussed at length a few weeks ago on The Business.
According to industry legend, this began in a really serious way when Miramax elbowed its way to a best picture for “Shakespeare in Love,” displacing the obvious favorite of “Saving Private Ryan.” I realized that I could test this by looking at my data to see signs of the development of Oscar performativity. One of the clearest examples of the film industry organizing itself around the Oscars is the concentration of Oscar bait in December. Late released films are both more salient to the Oscar voters and thus more likely to be nominated and still in theaters in February and thus more likely to be able to exploit nomination. By looking at the interaction between decade of release and day of the year, we can thus track the development of Oscar performativity. As seen below, there was basically no Oscar performativity in the late 30s and early 40s. From the late 40s through the early 90s there was a steady but low level of performativity. Then in the late 90s and early aughts the performativity gets really strong.
So basically, it looks like it really was “Shakespeare in Love” that set the precedent for all the artsy movies being crammed into December. Thanks Bob and Harvey!
Here’s the code:
set matsize 1000 gen decade=year recode decade 1900/1935=. 1936/1945=1 1946/1955=2 1956/1965=3 1966/1975=4 1976/1985=5 1986/1995=6 1996/2005=7 capture lab drop decade lab def decade 1 "1936-1945" 2 "1946-1955" 3 "1956-1965" 4 "1966-1975" 5 "1976-1985" 6 "1986-1995" 7 "1996-2005" lab val decade decade replace date=round(date) logit actor_nom female major FPY g_drama centrality pWnom pDnom c.date##decade esttab, se *have a nice day
Here are the results.
actor_nom female 0.924*** (0.0570) major 0.538*** (0.0841) FPY00 -0.326*** (0.0555) g_drama 1.814*** (0.0892) centrality 0.0635*** (0.00363) pWnom 0.253*** (0.0423) pDnom 1.026*** (0.0609) date 0.00185** (0.000691) 1b.decade 0 (.) 2.decade -0.597* (0.266) 3.decade -0.450 (0.275) 4.decade -0.0529 (0.269) 5.decade -0.220 (0.274) 6.decade -1.051*** (0.302) 7.decade -1.994*** (0.354) 1b.decade#~e 0 (.) 2.decade#c~e 0.00362*** (0.00104) 3.decade#c~e 0.00442*** (0.00107) 4.decade#c~e 0.00325** (0.00104) 5.decade#c~e 0.00348*** (0.00104) 6.decade#c~e 0.00465*** (0.00112) 7.decade#c~e 0.00766*** (0.00125) _cons -12.43*** (0.412) ---------------------------- N 147908 ---------------------------- Standard errors in parentheses * p<0.05, ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001