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Oscar Partial to Films Still in Theaters

28 Feb, 2005 By: Stephanie Prange

Every year, the video market looks forward to capitalizing on what few films appear in the home entertainment realm for the Academy Awards season.

This year, Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Ray, which streeted Feb. 1 and garnered star Jamie Foxx a best actor Oscar, seems to have been the most aptly-timed award contender for the home entertainment business. Two of the biggest winners — Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator — may have been the target of pirated digital copies, but were not to be found on home video shelves for the awards season.

While arthouse films that pick up Oscar gold may get a bit of a boost in theaters after a win, I contend that they would get an even bigger bump on the small screen — and sidestep piracy at the same time. It seems, however, that studios still consider the home entertainment release of a film an ancillary business, not worthy of Oscar winners until they have completely tapped the theatrical circuit.

No doubt, many consumers will see Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator on the big screen, but I would bet many more will see them on DVD. I would also bet that the audience for these Oscar-lauded films would fill studio coffers more quickly and lucratively on DVD than through theaters if they were available as the awards season closes — and the studios wouldn't have to sue anybody.

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