This Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 photo shows people having lunch beneath Oscar posters at Kate Mantilini restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 85th Academy Awards are held on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Giant coffee table books, iPod Shuffles, signed letters from directors, even “Lincoln” turkey roasting pans. That’s just some of the largesse doled out by the studios to voters for awards presented earlier this season — each with the potential to influence the outcome of Hollywood’s most important awards, Sunday night’s Oscars.
Such gifts are strictly forbidden by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But for studios, the stakes are high, and they’ve been creative in working around the rules to give their movies the best spotlight possible. A best picture win can boost a film’s commercial appeal and solidify relations with big-name actors and directors.
This year, top Oscar contenders “Argo” from Warner Bros. and “Lincoln” from Disney pitted two deep-pocketed rivals against each other in what some say was an unprecedented level of Oscar campaigning. There was even some targeted sniping about the films’ bending of historical facts.
Part of what’s behind the seemingly unrestrained lobbying is that this year, an unusually large number of best picture nominees are also doing well at the box office, giving the studios dry powder for their campaigns.
Six of the nine contenders for the top Oscar have reaped $100 million or more in ticket sales domestically, and collectively they’ve earned $309 million since the nominations Jan. 10, according to Hollywood.com. This record-setting “Oscar bump” dwarfs the $111 million the nine best picture nominees made between the nominations and the awards ceremony last year. It also trumps the season that 2009′s megahit Login to read more