Cinema: Post Time

In 1927, when Silent Cinemactress Janet Gaynor won Hollywood's first Academy Award for her acting in Seventh Heaven, a gold-plated Oscar statuette was worth about $150. The value of most gewgaws has risen since then, but Oscars have outstripped them all. Hollywood publicists have long since discovered that these "noncommercial" citations for artistic merit have a specific box-office value: a mere Oscar nomination can add about $100,000 to a movie's gross. An actual award, if well exploited, may be worth $500,000.

In this year's sweepstakes, proper timing is essential. Many Oscar contenders released...

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