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What’s that Oscar Really Worth?

The 86th Academy Awards are scheduled for March 2, 2014. And while Hollywood is gearing up for its big night, we at Bennett Awards are really intrigued by the history of the Oscar statuette, one of the most recognizable awards in the US, if not the world. Believe it not, Oscar himself is not the most expensive award created each year (and it is definitely not solid gold), but the indirect value of the Oscar is can means millions of dollars for the films, directors, and actors/actresses that win.

CBS Moneywatch reported that each Oscar award, made of gold-plated pewter, costs about $400 to make. By comparison, a Golden Globe statue costs about $800. Pewter is a lighter, softer metal (when compared to bronze) and because it melts at a lower temperature pewter can be poured directly into the rubber mold that was formed around the original model. That helps ensure that each Oscar looks exactly the same as the hundreds of Oscars that came before him.

Since 1950, the Academy has required Oscar winners to sign an agreement stipulating that they will not sell their statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy, for the whopping cost of $1. If a winner refuses to sign then the Academy keeps the award. But even with that clause in place, Academy Awards are bought and sold all the time. Industry experts speculate that approximately 150 Oscars have been sold since the first Academy Awards ceremony back in 1929. Michael Jackson bought the best picture Oscar for Gone with the Wind for $1.5 million, making it the most expensive Oscar ever. And an anonymous bidder bought the award that Orson Welles won for writing Citizen Kane for a paltry $862,000.

And while those two Oscars might be worth more money than most people spend on their houses, it’s not the physical award itself that is worth the most. It’s actually the prestige, the press, and the notoriety that comes from winning an award (and even just being nominated) that makes Oscars really valuable.

CBS also reported that the Best Picture winners net (on average) an extra $14 million in box office revenue after their Oscar win. For instance, Slumdog Millionaire, which was released just a month before the 2009 Academy Awards, saw its revenue jump 43% the weekend after winning Best Picture. In the past four years, movies that were merely nominated (but didn’t win) still got an average of $20 million extra in profits before the awards thanks to the exposure and hype leading up to the awards show, and an additional $5 million more afterward.

As for the actors and actresses that go home with an Oscar of their own, talent agents and managers estimate that their A-list clients will get a 20% boost in pay for their next film if they win the award for Best Actor or Actress. Since she won the Best Actress award, Natalie Portman is expected to boost her take from the high six figures she received for Black Swan to around $10 million.

Marc Malkin is senior editor for E! Online and E! News. He points out;

You look at someone like Jennifer Lawrence. She had a tiny career before Winter’s Bone. She gets nominated for Winter’s Bone. She becomes the hottest in Hollywood. She gets X-Men then she gets Hunger Games. Then she gets Silver Linings and she’s nominated again…There’s no doubt that that Winter’s Bone nomination completely changed her career.

That $400 statue certainly goes a long way!