How much does an Oscar cost?

15th February 2018

By James Story

The biggest night of the year for the movies is just around the corner. The 90th Academy Awards will take place on 4th March (in the wee hours of the morning for us Brits) with the film industry’s top talent vying for awards recognition. But have you ever wondered how much an Oscar costs?

We’re no strangers to finance, but borrowing millions of dollars to produce a movie is on another scale to taking out a loan. So, we dove into the stats of every Oscar winner since 2000 to find out just how much you have to spend on a movie for it to win an award.

Best Picture Costs $46.1M

With a few notable exceptions (Gladiator in 2000, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003 and The Departed in 2006) Best Picture winners have been surprisingly low-budget. The most recent winner, Moonlight, had a budget of just $4 million, which goes to show – splashing cash seldom means getting a stellar movie.

This Year’s Winner: The Post

At $50 million, Steven Spielberg’s The Post is on track to pick up the top prize, from our calculations. This is a surprise as oddsmakers had Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water as early favourites and the likes of Get Out and Lady Bird serving as underdogs to look out for. Looks like Spielberg’s not done leaving his mark on the industry.

While Best Director and Best Picture often have the same winner (as is the case in 10 of the last 17 years), Best Director has, recently, gone to people who have taken their movies to the extreme. Ang Lee and Alfonso Caurón created 3D spectacles with Life of Pi and Gravity, respectively, while Alejandro G. Iñárritu needed $135 million to complete The Revenant.

This Year’s Winner: Paul Thomas Anderson

Looks like the man behind Daniel Day-Lewis’ last film, Phantom Thread, is going to pick up his first Best Director nod. This year’s nominees are all from low-budget films, except for Christopher Nolan with his $100 million epic, Dunkirk.

Looking at all of the categories, the most prestigious awards actually proved to be some of the cheapest available. Lead Actress and Actor came most and third-most cheapest of all awards, respectively, and both were cheaper than their Supporting counterparts.

Picture and Director also fell outside of the top 10, while Animated Feature and Visual Effects took the highest spots. It’s easy to see why when Animated Feature carries a bevy of Pixar classics as winners, while Visual Effects has blockbusters including Avatar, Inception, and all three The Lord of the Rings films.

Using this information, we can even predict the full slate of winners for the upcoming Academy Awards. Warning: spoilers ahead!

Phantom Thread and Dunkirk are set to be the big winners, both picking up four awards. Notable is the Supporting Actor work of Christopher Plummer, who we expect will be rewarded for his extremely swift work as part of the All the Money in the World reshoots. And don’t be surprised if The Boss Baby pulls an upset over the critically-adored Coco for Animated Feature.

Who do you think is going to win big at the Oscars? Let us know on Facebook.



1) Movie budgets have been adjusted for inflation using an online calculator.

2) Insufficient budget information was available for the following categories: Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short Subject, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Live Action Short Film.

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