What once were the least-seen films in every year’s Oscar competitions – short film categories for animation, live action and documentaries – are finding more and more love from audiences even in the most traditional of formats, in movie theaters.
ShortsTV’s theatrical release of the “Oscar Nominated Short Films” compilations bolted to a box-office record for the 13-year-old series in its first week in theaters this month, and is set to report more than $2.1m in box office after its second week, well ahead of the pace for the release in past years.
In all, the three feature-length compilations, totalling 15 nominees, pulled in more than $700,000 in domestic gross on 198 screens during its opening weekend, the company reported. By the end of the week, the compilations had grossed nearly $1.1 million. During the second week of release, on 270 screens, box office crossed the $2.1 million mark, putting it ahead of the pace for its previous two-week high-water mark, in 2017.
Those results put this year’s release on track to pass $3 million in domestic gross in the next seven days, well above 2017’s $2.85 million total, the current series record, ShortsTV said.
“Not since the days of Greta Garbo have short films reached such a big audience and seen returns that exceed most independent feature films,” said ShortsTV CEO Carter Pilcher. “We are seeing a growing global shift in entertainment preferences towards short form content.”
As well, the 2017 gross came in over a 16-day release, but this year, fans will have more time to get to theaters to watch before the Oscar Telecast. When compared to the 2016 release, during which the films were in theaters for at least 7 days longer than 2017 and thus more comparable to this year, the 2018 release is more than $700,000 ahead–or nearly 50% higher than 2016.
The Winter Olympics pushed the Oscar ceremonies until March 4, meaning the short film nominees will stay in theaters an extra week compared to last year, the company said, with a chance to keep attracting audiences up through the big day.
“This year’s Oscar Nominated Short Films are phenomenally great filmmaking and it’s exciting to see the strong audience response to such great movies,” said Pilcher. “The theatrical release has become an Oscar-season tradition that just keeps building and building. There is no better way to feel like you’ve participated in the deepest darkest of Oscar secrets than by seeing these wonderful short films on the big screen–their best possible viewing format. It’s a great night out.”
The films, slated to reach a total of more than 500 screens by the end of their run, will be available on about 250 screens by Oscar Sunday. They have been helped by a strong online-marketing campaign that found an enormous increase in online fan engagement compared to 2017, the company said. In fact, during the first 10 days of the theatrical release, 1200-percent more fans had already clicked through to the Oscar Shorts on the Powster online ticketing site compared to the same period last year.
Not only is the series seeing bigger box office and better online engagement, major theater chains are expanding their footprint with the compilations.
Cinemark, which does a big push for the series around Oscar weekend, is doubled the theaters carrying the release this year. AMC has increased the number of runs on its screens by 61 percent. Among the major chains, Regal, Landmark, Laemmle, Alamo Drafthouse, Classic Cinemas, and Marcus Theaters are also carrying the series. The Dallas-based chain Studio Movie Grill will play two of the sets of shorts (Live Action and Animation) on March 1 at 16 of its locations.
The “Oscar Nominated Short Films–Live Action with select Animations”, will also become available via online electronic sell-through and VOD services beginning the evening of Feb. 27, after the Motion Picture Academy closes official voting by its more than 6,000 members.
Major electronic sell-through services carrying the digital version of the release will include Apple iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Vimeo, and Frontier. Major Pay-TV services carrying the digital release include DIRECTV, ATT U-Verse, Time Warner, Charter/ Spectrum, Comcast and CenturyLink.