Can the number of news published predict the Oscar winners?



Somewhere in time, someone has written a recipe how to make an Oscar-winning movie. Probably some of the current 7,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences have seen this recipe and even used it to their best advantage in order to win an Oscar in one of the 24 categories. Probably the recipe starts by hinting at finding solid funding for your screenplay and only then moving on to start shooting the film. Of course, a good plot, an amazing setting, as well as a good casting are of importance but it all starts with money.

Now, when we know that “The Shape of the Water” wins the 90th Best Picture annual Academy Award, we can think about how they managed to get there. The film does not boast a record budget with Guillermo del Toro having funding worth $19.5 million. This is not a modest budget too with the plot does not require more to complete the job.

Del Toro himself admitted the movie needed bigger budget “to be marketed properly”. And here we come – marketing and sales.

Hey, Press. Give Me an Oscar

Actually, “The Shape of the Water” was fortunate to be a movie made by Guillermo del Toro since the press is favorable to him. The very setup and the story quite resemble the well-known story about a beauty and a beast, which needs more than del Toro’s mastery to win the most important Oscar.

The marketers behind the movie did their job perfectly by creating quite of a buzz around it and “Shape of the Water” received media coverage that many great movies in history did not get. A massive series of TV spots hit the screens a week before the release, and they have managed to generate a lot of buzz at Venice Film Festival betting on “The Shape of the Water” being an unusual film.

Media Mentions Count – Only Lady Bird’s Director Has More Media Coverage than Guillermo del Toro

  Total news count News published on front-page Front-page duration (hrs.) Read count
Greta Gerwig 9.714 1.478 22.892 43.586.944
Guillermo del Toro 8.602 1.219 18.776 37.400.099
Jordan Peele 7.342 1.190 19.551 28.120.544
Christopher Nolan 5.188 767 12.811 18.180.705
Paul Thomas Anderson 4.350 623 9.869 15.579.353

Source: Newsmeter

Sometimes you do not need to bribe the press. There are win-win situations where the media, both print and online, just need something to talk about. Media must attract readers with a captivating story to make money; the movie needs more readers turning moviegoers to make money as well.

So, you need not be a marketing guru to know that and bet on the winning formula – give the press their story and reap the benefits. Of course, you also need social media on your side to generate a massive discussion. Once the mainstream media was involved, the marketing crew did just that with leading actress Octavia Spencer appearing on numerous online feeds speaking how she finally got a role where she can play someone for whom race wasn’t the defining characteristic.

You can take on to The Atlantic and find that this year marks fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr’s association and read a series of stories focusing on the march for race equality. And you can place a safe bet that a good number of the voting members of the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences are well on the liberal side of the political spectrum. Little details like that can define the fate of an Oscar-nominated movie.

Add Politics but Not Too Much

Back to the marketing and PR. Sometimes you need a vast budget to generate media buzz but you can also get massive coverage by just exploiting the trending topics and concerns of a society. If you have the proper media tracking tools on your side, you can measure identify and measure trending topics and simply insert your movie into the conversation.

Spencer’s revelations about race may not seem like a big deal but put them into the context of the trending topics and you get the huge potential for media exposure. The context is that of making films like “The Black Panther” which marks a peak in speaking about “non-white” dominated movies and so on. The film is not eligible for Oscars but the $200-million production may well have won a few of them, partly because of the politics surrounding the current box office leader.



Media Mentions Count – “The Shape of the Water” is Undisputed Media Favorite

  Total news count News published on front-page Front-page duration (hrs.) Read count
The Shape of Water 17.026 2.284 35.925 65.002.933
Get Out 16.280 2.450 41.214 67.168.372
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri 15.227 2.051 31.200 61.116.305
Lady Bird 13.321 1.929 31.241 60.276.285
The Post 12.276 1666 26.199 48.039.538
Dunkirk 11.734 1.645 25.706 48.292.798
Darkest Hour 10.274 1.439 21.718 52.752.336
Call Me by Your Name 10.237 1.579 25.019 45.783.132
Phantom Thread 9.377 1.338 21.531 45.209.601

Source: Newsmeter

The makers of “The Shape of the Water” exploited the ongoing race equality debate to their advantage giving social channels a lot to talk about alongside “The Black Panther”. It takes only a little intervention from marketers to shift the focus from bold racial statements to the mastery of del Toro in interpreting a story about different species being attracted to each other.

Can You Beat the Odds?

On the eve of the Academy Awards ceremony oddsmakers in Las Vegas and London had two major favorites for the Best Picture winner – “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “The Shape of Water.” Well, “Three Billboards” takes home two Oscars – Best Actress award for Frances McDormand and Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell. While these awards will boost the careers of those two actors, “The Shape of Water” will be remembered as the 90th Best Picture winner.

Oddsmakers know their job. They measure a good number of factors and indicators to get the odds right. Media coverage, the overall attitude of the movie critics and the media, as well as all the surrounding buzz all play role in gauging the odds. Each of this year’s Oscar nominees has made an effort to influence the public opinion in their favor. Artistic merits notwithstanding, “The Shape of Water” seems to have won due to a balanced and wide spreading marketing campaign that covers both mainstream media and social channels. You cannot buy an Oscar, yet you can influence the final decision of the Academy’s voting members.

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