Oscar nominations are out: what's an Oscar worth?

The Oscar nominations are out. But will this year’s nominees be laughing all the way to the bank?

What's an Oscar worth?

The Oscar nominations have been announced; revealing the stars and film-makers at the peak of their career. Of course, Oscars are nice to get - who doesn't want a statue dedicated to their own genius? But it's not just about the recognition - winning an Oscar can have a dramatic financial effect too.

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A win can transform an actor's earning potential. A study at Colgate University found that male actors have their salaries increased by an astonishing average of 81% after winning that little gold statue - a pay rise of almost $4 million.

Sadly for women the pay boost isn't half as dramatic - with an increase of just $500,000 on average. It's one reason why multi-Oscar-winner Meryl Streep has spoken out previously about the gender pay gap in Hollywood. She pointed out that her three Oscars didn't mean she made as much as her male co-stars. Now she has become the most nominated performer in the history of the awards, and yet she is a notable absence from any list of the highest-paid in Tinseltown.

For the film

It will make a huge difference to the box office takings for the film. In fact, just being nominated is enough. Take American Hustle, for example, it was nominated in 2014, and went on to take another $42 million at the box office - almost a third of the total the film made. Winning, meanwhile, adds even more to the total a film takes. IBIS World calculated that winners between 2008 and 2012 made 50% of the box office before nomination, 30% between nomination and winning, and 20% after the win. This is even more striking when you appreciate how long the films have been open by then.

The statue itself holds some value, although it depends entirely on when it was given. Anything after 1951 and the Academy will step in and stop the winner selling it for any more than $1. Those given before 1951, however, have been sold, and the value in that case depends on the history of the award. The highest sum ever paid for an Oscar was $1,542,500 by Michael Jackson, who bought the Best Picture award for Gone With the Wind in 1999.

Silver lining

For those who have been entirely overlooked, there's good news in the fact that while winning an Oscar may make you richer, not winning an Oscar hardly exactly damages your earning potential. The most recent list of the best-paid actors in Hollywood by Forbes, for example, is topped by The Rock. He's not a man who has been showered with praise from the Academy so far in his career, and he seems to be doing just fine. Likewise second-placed Jackie Chan has only ever won an honorary Oscar.

In the top five best-paid men, therefore, there are two men who haven't received an Oscar, two that have been nominated but never won (Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp) and only one winner (Matt Damon in third place).

Of the best-paid actresses, only first placed Jennifer Lawrence holds an Oscar, while only second-placed Melissa McCarthey has been nominated.

It turns out that being critically acclaimed isn't enough to draw people to the box office and therefore make you worth the studios paying the big bucks to. For that you need to be in a blockbuster franchise featuring fast cars, pirates or superheroes.

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