"The Artist" could quickly double its box office sales after winning the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday. The Weinstein Company has marketing muscle and is planning to expand the film into hundreds of more theaters.
But there might be a bigger factor at play: "The Artist" has no true competition at the box office for the next three weeks, allowing the silent movie a chance to make a lot of noise at the cash register, Karie Bible, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations Co., told The Huffington Post Monday.
This weekend, the two wide releases are "The Lorax," a Dr. Seuss adaptation, and "Project X," a party-hardy romp. Neither should conflict with the quieter tastes of those who might be interested to see what all the Academy Awards fuss was about for "The Artist," which also won Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius and Best Actor for Jean Dujardin.
The schedule is also kind to "The Artist" two weeks after the Oscars, Bible said. The Mars war thriller "John Carter" (March 9) is not tracking well, Bible said, and Eddie Murphy's "Thousand Words" (March 9) and "21 Jump Street" (March 16) should not provide a direct threat either at the cineplex.
"The next three weeks there's a real opportunity for 'The Artist' to surge," Bible said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see the Weinsteins use these Oscar wins to double the grosses or at least considerably boost them."
The movie, made for $15 million, had earned nearly $32 million stateside before the Academy Awards, meaning it could jump to $64 million within three or four weeks, based on Bible's predictions. That would be a handsome take for a black and white movie with French actors and a French director about long-ago Hollywood.
Best Picture winners usually can expect to receive up to a 15 percent increase in cinema sales after the Oscars, IBS World, a market research firm, told Forbes.
But a studio release slate that doesn't challenge the film's demographic could make "The Artist" a post-ceremony standout -- maybe even place it above 1988 winner "The Last Emperor," the king of post-Best Picture momentum, according to CNBC.com. The movie's receipts spiked 42.3 percent, from $25.4 million (adjusted for inflation) to $44 million.
As for a recent impressive example, 2009 winner "Slumdog Millionaire" generated a post-victory surge of 30.4 percent, earning an extra $43 million after capturing eight Academy Awards. Other winners have had remarkable upticks between getting nominated and winning an Oscar. "Million Dollar Baby," the 2005 winner, fought back from a meager $8.5 million take before its nominations and four victories to $100.5 million, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"The Artist," reportedly rolling out to 1,500 theaters, is expected to surpass $80 million worldwide this weekend, Variety wrote, and is expanding into Japan in April.
Without a true rival in the coming weeks, "The Artist" may initiate its own silent era in ticket sales.