The Oscars have become one of Hollywood’s most glamorous events over the past nearly nine decades, with stars spending millions on red carpet ensembles and companies shelling out just as much to score an advertising spot or a little real estate inside the event’s extravagant nominee gift bags.
Tickets to attend the first Oscars ceremony in 1929 cost just $5. The event was hosted privately out of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and the winning actress, Janet Gaynor, wore an off-the-rack skirt, top and scarf.
Today, the whole affair runs approximately $44 million, with best actor and actress nominees collectively investing close to $1 million in attire alone — and well beyond that when factoring in accessories.
So, just what does it cost for stars, sponsors and advertisers to get a piece of the Oscars? Here are a few of the most mind-boggling numbers.
Swag Bags: $100,000… Each
It must be nice to be so rich and famous that people want to give you fancy swag for free. Indeed, companies are willing to write off not just the cost of the goods and services they donate to the Oscars’ famous swag bags, but also the fees associated with getting those goodies into the bag.
In fact, these firms are literally paying stars to use their stuff.
These costs get written off as business expenses. It’s good exposure when a celebrity uses a brand’s products, and many consider it a worthwhile investment with a significant potential return on investment (ROI) as fans tend to investigate whatever their favorite celebs are doing, wearing and supporting.
This year’s bag will feature 56 items, including skincare products, cosmetics, books, pepper spray, a diamond necklace (conflict-free by Luxura Diamonds), locally-grown oranges donated by delivery app EpiFruit, sessions with a personal trainer, pre-launch access to the new dating app NeverMissed and a 10,000-bowl donation to an animal shelter of their choice. They also get enough vacations and getaways to keep them busy until the next Oscars ceremony.
The whole package is worth a whopping $100,000, according to Forbes.
30-Second Ad Spots: $2.4 Million, On Average
Although the Oscars, broadcast on ABC, may not attract as many viewers as 2017’s awards, the network is still charging 30 percent more than last year for ad spots. A 30-second ad cost an average of $1.9 million in 2016. This year, it’s $2.4 million — and the spots sold out more than a week ago.
ABC reportedly expects Oscar ad revenue to climb as much as 9 percent this year, with many companies planning to target their messages to women as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements sweep through Hollywood and the American zeitgeist at large.
Forbes noted that both Super Bowl and Olympic ad placements rose in cost this year, even as viewership continued to fall, thanks to macro trends like cord-cutting and the public’s dwindling enthusiasm toward moviegoing.
On average, the Oscars draws approximately 33 million viewers, so there is still significant potential for brands to be seen this way. Meanwhile, the Olympics attracts 20 million viewers per night, and the Grammys pull just 19 million. The Super Bowl takes the cake by a landslide, bringing in 103.4 million viewers.
Red Carpet Fashion Statements: $30,000 To $10.7 Million
In 2016, the 20 best leading and supporting actor and actress nominees spent a collective $749,252 on attire. That number was reported by Forbes and estimated by artificial intelligence (AI) startup LookLive.
Saoirse Ronan wore a beaded green Calvin Klein dress with an estimated cost of around $60,000. A similar emerald green dress by August Getty Atelier, worn by Rachel McAdams, was estimated at a more modest $30,000. Charlotte Rampling’s Armani Prive dress was the most expensive on the carpet that year, totaling an estimated $125,000.
However, the fashion statement price tag doesn’t stop at the dress. Last year, Jenifer Aniston wore a custom set of Lorraine Schwartz jewelry that featured $9.5 million emerald-cut diamond earrings and a $1.2 million Golconda diamond ring. All told, the getup was worth approximately $10.7 million, People Magazine reported.
Almost makes that $30,000 getup seem cheap, doesn’t it?
Oscar Statuette: $900
It can be easy to overlook the basics when stars, sponsors and advertisers are spending so much on the event, but there are some staples of the Oscars without which this annual extravaganza would not be complete.
When calculating the cost of the Oscars, one can’t forget the event’s mascot himself — the 24-karat, gold-plated knight, standing 13.5 inches tall and weighing a surprising 8.5 pounds. Winners often comment on the unexpected heft of the award. The current estimated cost of a single Oscar statue is estimated at $900. With one for each of 24 competitive award categories, that comes out to more than $21,000 total.
Then there is the red carpet itself, worth around $24,700 according to Forbes, and the watermarked screeners that are mailed to voters at a total cost of around $300,000. In addition, there are 45 million Swarovski crystals decorating 1,750 square feet of stage.
Forbes didn’t even want to take a stab at how much that might have cost.
Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars air on ABC on Sunday, March 4, at 8:00 p.m. EST (5:00 p.m. PST). Viewers can also tune in via abc.com or the ABC mobile app.