John Horn's “Oscar bumps up ego, sure, but box office?” in the Los Angeles Times:
“With the studios and their specialized film divisions spending tens of millions of dollars on award campaigns, it's natural to assume the holy grail is the Oscar statuette. It's an attractive myth, and one that gets a lot of media attention. If only it were still true.
“Though the little gold man is an imposing addition to any bookcase and briefly slakes the unquenchable vanity of filmmakers, producers and studio executives, its effect on a film's ultimate profitability is routinely negligible. In some cases, an over-the-top campaign – Good Night, and Good Luck being an excellent recent example – can actually slash a film's profitability.
“Any 'Oscar bump,' in other words, translates into more prestige and ego boost than a box office bonus.
John Horn's article makes for an interesting read, though it would have been more informative – and more accurate – had Horn told us how much money studios, distributors, and/or filmmakers earn on DVD, pay-per-view, cable and television, and international (including box-office) sales following their films' Oscar wins.
When all that is added up, then perhaps we'll discover that the effect of the Oscar on a film's ultimate profitability is routinely anything but negligible. After all, according to various reports domestic (US / Canada) box office accounts for about only 25-30 percent of a (Hollywood) film's total revenues.
And here's another view on Oscar's financial effects, by Paul R. La Monica, on CNN.com.