4 stocks shining in the Oscar spotlight

An Academy Award nomination means stronger ticket sales and longer theater runs.

By Wall St. Cheat Sheet Jan 11, 2013 4:03PM

Hollywood copyright Comstock, SuperStockLike the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards are more than the recognition of artistic achievement. They are a blazing badge of endorsement from a discerning consumer group that says: "Hey, everyone, this movie is worth spending a few bucks on." 

The announcement of this year's nominees by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is good news for four entertainment companies.  


News Corp.

News Corp. (NWSA) (NWS) owns Fox Entertainment Group, which is the parent company of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, which is the distributor for, among many other films, "Lincoln."


"Lincoln" had an estimated budget of $65 million, and as of Dec. 30, had grossed over $132 million. That's a tidy profit right there. Sweetening the deal is an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.


Phil Contrino, editor of Boxoffice.com, wrote an article pegging "Lincoln" as one of the films with a lot to gain from the Oscar nomination, particularly as it has yet to be released in key overseas markets such as Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom (which everyone knows are just dying to see a film about the American Civil War). Contrino thinks "$175 million looks like a sure thing," given the nomination.


"Life of Pi" can also be traced back to News Corp., and has also received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. It had a budget of $120 million, double "Lincoln's," but has grossed nearly $400 million worldwide so far, helped along by its availability in 3D, which commands higher ticket prices.


Rounding out the good news for Rupert Murdoch's media empire is "Beasts of the Southern Wild," a fantasy-drama film about a flood in the Louisiana bayou, nominated for four Oscars and, despite its indie status, pulling in $11.2 million in ticket sales so far. The low-budget, under-the-radar film could get a huge boost, especially as its nine-year-old star, Quvenzhané Wallis, is the youngest-ever nominee in the Actress in a Leading Role category.


Sony Corporation

Sony owns Sony Pictures (SNE), which owns Sony Pictures Classics, an art-house film division that specializes in documentaries, independent films, and art films. This little division is the distributor behind "Amour," a French-language film about a retired music teacher and her husband struggling with bad health, which was nominated for five Oscars.


This film perhaps has the most to gain from the quintuple Oscar nod. "Amour" has grossed just $340,700 in the U.S. so far. How can you tell that it has star potential? Besides the nominations, it has grossed over $13 million overseas. It's a growth story waiting to happen.


Sony is also the distributor behind "Zero Dark Thirty," which was brilliantly planned to expand into 2,400 locations on Friday, just one day after Oscar nominees were announced. 


"Zero Dark Thirty," of course, is Kathryn Bigelow's film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and was sure to get at least a few nods (it got five). It has a worldwide gross of over $6.2 million so far, having only been released on Dec. 19 in limited theaters.


Big bucks, Sony, you've got big bucks coming your way.


Time Warner Inc.

Time Warner (TWX) owns Warner Bros., the distributor behind "Argo." Ben Affleck's film cost as much as $80 million and so far has a worldwide gross of over $177 million. It was also nominated for seven Oscars. (Not bad, Tony Mendez, not bad at all.)


Comcast Corporation

Universal Studios is a subsidiary of Comcast (CMCSA) and is the distributor for "Les Misérables," which is probably the single most talked-about film in theaters. (Apologies to "The Hobbit," which, by the way, was nominated for three Oscars: makeup and hairstyling, production design, and visual effects.)


"Les Misérables" cost about $100 million to make and, since its release on Dec. 25, has grossed $187 million worldwide. Contrino, from Boxoffice.com, thinks $300 million is in the bag. This film took the Oscar cake with eight nominations.

Dan Ritter is a staff writer at Wall St. Cheat Sheet. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. For more from Wall St. Cheat Sheet, see the Stock Picker Newsletter and Feature Stock Pick.

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