- Cost of Best Picture winners show very significant devaluation of the dollar
- Average cost to make an Oscar winning film is over $43 million – in gold terms, this is over 106,000 ounces
- Four $15 million films show nearly 100% difference when priced in gold ounces
- Oscar fiasco was courtesy of error by accountants PWC
- Whilst the price of the films remained the same, the cost in gold ounces fell from 11.53% of the cost to make the Departed, in 2009 to just 6.4% in 2012
- In an error prone, irrational and volatile world, gold retains value over time …
The Oscars – the drama of the dollar
Oscars night seemingly sent Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway a bit La La as they declared the wrong film the winner of the Best Picture Award at the Oscars, last night.
Instead of announcing ‘Moonlight’ as the winner of the industry’s highest accolade, they read out ‘La La Land’. Cue a few awkward moments, no doubt some heads rolling behind the scenes of the Dolby Theatre and a Daily Mail headline of ‘FAKE OSCARS FIASCO.’
Which it wasn’t really, just a bit odd after a very slick night.
Moonlight was the story of a man who grows up unsure and occasionally uncomfortable about who he is. La La Land is a musical love story about a couple trying to make it in LA – a city known for destroying hopes and throwing many hopefuls to the wayside. Both narratives are not unfamiliar to the world in which we find ourselves. Unfortunately our world is not a fantasy and will certainly not be done with our attentions in just over two hours.
When we wrote about the Oscars last week, we asked if they were Worth Their Weight in Gold and concluded that whilst we might dream in gold just like the glitterati, perhaps gold bullion would be a better investment for most of us. We showed that the price of gold has climbed 60 times ever since the first ceremony in 1929, a sobering example of the devaluation of fiat currencies in the last 88 years.
Whilst we think the devaluation of the dollar, and the maintained value of gold is the lesson to take away, there are a number of different lessons actors, directors and studios would like the critics and viewers to believe they can draw from their masterpieces. For some this is about the big bucks and box office numbers, and how they can make or break a film.
We agree, today there a few examples around that really show how little value the dollar carries.
Now that we are on the other side of the most 89th Academy Awards we take a look at what we can learn from last night’s behemoth that was the Oscars and the films that they work to honour.
Cost of making Best Picture
In the last twenty years, the average cost to make an Oscar winning film is over $43 million. In gold terms it is over 106,000 ounces.
The above graph doesn’t mean very much though, just that the cost of films go up and down, no matter what currency you decide to price it in.
In the decade of the financial crisis, this has come down somewhat and the average is more like $27 million, or 29,600 ounces. This statistic alone shows you how the dollar is falling in real value. Whilst the average cost in US Dollars to make a winning film is 60% in the last decade, compared to the average in the last 20 years, it is just 27% of the 20 year average when priced in gold ounces.
When you rebase to 100, using 2007 as the base year, then you begin to see some interesting results. Conveniently, Martin Scorcese’s 2007 The Departed is the most expensive Best Picture film in the last decade, cost ing $90 million. This was equal to just over 150,000 ounces of gold. No film since then has cost as much. Lincoln was close, costing just 72% of the price of Scorcese’s epic gangster film, but interestingly when priced in gold it cost just 26% percent of the Departed’s gold budget, with 39,000 ounces needed to fund the biopic.
The $15 million question
Perhaps as a sign of the times, Best Picture winners have been getting cheaper in recent years. Moonlight cost just $5 million to make, the lowest price for a winning film in at least two decades. It was also the cheapest in terms of gold ounces, costing just 3,997 ounces.
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