- Such streaks are rare in an industry with so much competition
- DiCaprio revenge drama will also see a boost at the box office
The filmmakers with most to gain from a best picture Oscar victory this weekend have already taken home Hollywood’s top prize -- for two years in a row.
New Regency Productions Inc. could score a rare three-peat at the 88th Academy Awards Sunday with a win for “The Revenant,” the frontier drama featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. The company, along with distributor 20th Century Fox, already holds the last two best-picture Oscars with 2015’s “Birdman” and “12 Years a Slave” from 2014. In addition Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu could grab the directing award for the second straight year.
The chance to win three Oscars in a row adds a new dimension to an annual ceremony that’s always been about prestige, artistic merit and box-office sales, as well as the glamorous stars who take the stage. Sunday’s pageantry is an opportunity for New Regency, backed by the film division of 21st Century Fox Inc. and Fortress Investment Group, to burnish its credentials in all three areas. The awards telecast begins at 8:30 p.m. New York time on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network.
“It is hard to make a drama that actually succeeds and wins best picture,” said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, an industry consultant. New Regency, with its ties to directors such as Iñárritu and casting like DiCaprio, who’s up for the best-actor award, is “making smart choices,” he said.
The film, made at an estimated cost of $135 million, has taken in $383.6 million in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo, another researcher. It will bolster those totals this weekend and beyond, analysts say, given that it was still in more than 1,900 theaters, the most of any Oscar contender.
“‘The Revenant’” definitely has the most potential to see the biggest bump, especially if it wins,” said Erik Davis, managing editor at the online ticketing website Fandango. Sales for the picture jumped 80 percent within 24 hours of its nomination for the top prize on Jan. 14, Fandango said.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which hands out the Oscars, can’t find an example of a single company winning best picture three times in a row, even though many have multiple wins. For the first 24 years of the Oscars, the award was given to the studio that distributed the winning film, not the producer. Box Office Mojo lists United Artists as a three-time winning distributor in the 1970s.
New Regency, led by founder and majority owner Arnon Milchan, declined to comment, as did Fox.
“The Revenant” went into the Oscars as the favorite among some bookmakers, with 12 nominations and several wins behind it, including best film drama at the Golden Globes, best picture at the Bafta Awards in the U.K. and the top prize at the Directors Guild of America. Iñárritu, who also directed “Birdman,” was the first to win the DAG award two years running. That prize is a closely watched indicator of Oscar sentiment.
“The Revenant” is also the newest release of the eight contenders, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at researcher ComScore Inc., and was still in the top 10 last weekend for domestic box-office sales.
The closest competitors for the top prize -- the newspaper drama “Spotlight” and the Matt Damon film “The Martian” -- have already been in theaters for months.
Last year’s best-picture winner “Birdman” generated 37 percent of its total ticket sales after its nomination and 11 percent after it grabbed the top price, according to ComScore. The boxing drama “Million Dollar Baby,” starring Hilary Swank, nearly doubling its ticket sales after being nominated, according to data from ComScore.
While “The Revenant” might not do that well after the Oscars, ticket sales jumped 80 percent in the 24 hours after its nomination for best picture, according to Fandango.
Like a lot of Hollywood productions today, “The Revenant” has a long list of credits. The film’s other producers include Anonymous Content, DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way, RatPac Entertainment and Monarchy Enterprises, according to Imdb.com
New Regency, 20 percent owned by Fox, raised $200 million from funds led by Fortress last July. Founded in 1991 by Milchan, a former Israeli intelligence officer who still owns 80 percent, the company co-produced the TV series “Malcolm in the Middle.”
The new loans will fund film production and growth in its re-established television business, according to the Los Angeles-based company. In December, New Regency will release “Assassin’s Creed,” an adventure film based on the video game of the same name. The picture stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.