The Oscars Big Money Quiz: Who Won and Lost Financially in Hollywood

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OscarsThis weekend, the Oscars will celebrate the best in American film -- and American marketing. After all, while the little gold statuettes go to the country's finest writers, directors, actors and actresses, they also honor the massive, multimillion dollar marketing campaigns that studios undertake in an effort to push their movies over the top. And, from the looks of things, this year's Oscar season was even more expensive than most.

With that in mind, we've compiled some interesting facts about the money behind the movies -- how much they cost, how much they make, and how badly some of history's biggest duds failed. If you've ever wondered about the dollars behind the dream factory, take a peek!

Pop Quiz: The Money Behind the Oscars
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The Oscars Big Money Quiz: Who Won and Lost Financially in Hollywood

A. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
B. "Cleopatra"
C. "Titanic"
D. "John Carter"

"Cleopatra" often gets highlighted as the definitive example of an expensive, extravagant flick, but it actually ranks fairly low on the all time list of big budget bloat. Whether you're talking about nominal cost or dollars adjusted for inflation, the $300 million budget for "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" made it the most expensive movie ever.

A. "Avatar"
B. "Star Wars"
C. "Gone with the Wind"
D. "Jaws"

In terms of actual grosses, Avatar's $2.8 billion worldwide haul blows away the competition. Adjusted for inflation, though, it runs second behind "Gone with the Wind," which, in today's money would have raked in a stunning $3.3 billion.

A. "Ishtar"
B. "Cutthroat Island"
C. "Battlefield Earth"
D. "The Adventures of Pluto Nash"

While all four movies were world-class duds, when you adjust for inflation, the all-time biggest loser is "Cutthroat Island." It grossed about $11 million, or about 11 percent of its $98 million budget. Adjusted for inflation, it lost over $147 million.

A. "Star Wars"
B. "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding"
C. "Grease"
D. "E.T."

When it comes to movies, a high gross doesn't necessarily translate into a high profit margin. To be truly profitable, a film must mix high returns with low costs, and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" met that standard in major way: With a $369 million gross off a $6 million budget, it had a 6150 percent profit margin!

A. Marcellus Wallace's briefcase from "Pulp Fiction"
B. The eponymous car from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"
C. Audrey Hepburn's dress from "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
D. James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 from "Goldfinger"

Ejector seats and machine guns don't come cheap: In 2010, James Bond's tricked-out spy car sold at auction for $4.1 million.

A. Joan Crawford
B. Katherine Hepburn
C. Mickey Rooney
D. Harvey Weinstein

In 1946, eager to make a splash with her tear-jerking role in Mildred Pierce, Joan Crawford hired Hollywood publicist Henry Rogers to help her bag an Oscar. With a combination of behind-the-scenes wrangling and clever manipulation of the press, Rogers got the gold -- and Crawford got the award for best actress.

A. 10 percent
B. 15 percent
C. 20 percent
D. 25 percent

While Oscar winners' actual salary boosts vary from person to person, Hollywood agents estimate that one of the little gold statuettes can increase an actor's next payday by an average of 20 percent.


Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.
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