‘La La Land’ and ‘Moonlight’ May Both Profit From Academy Awards Blunder

Learn how both award-winning films stand to sell major tickets at the box office despite the Oscars' blunder.


By now, you’ve heard all about the Academy Awards blunder that will go down as the worst mistake in Hollywood award show history. Best Picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong card, causing them to inadvertently award the Oscar to “La La Land,” when it actually belonged to “Moonlight.”

In a moment that stunned both the A-list crowd in the Dolby Theater and viewers at home, the “La La Land” team graciously passed their Oscars on to the “Moonlight” cast and crew. Since then, PricewaterhouseCoopers — the auditing firm that handles counting the 6,200 Oscar ballots — has issued an apology for the colossal mishap.

Oscars So Rich: See How Much Last Night’s Big Winners Are Worth

Big Payday Likely to Come for ‘La La Land’ and ‘Moonlight’

Thinking they were Academy Award winners, then having the statuette taken from their hands was no doubt traumatizing for the talent behind “La La Land,” but there may be a silver lining. Millions of people watched the Oscars, and those who hadn’t seen “La La Land” or “Moonlight” will be eager to see what they’re missing.

“La La Land” didn’t win Best Picture at the Academy Awards after all, but the film is dominating box offices across the globe. The musical tribute to the “City of Angels” has earned nearly $369 million at box offices worldwide — with a production budget of $30 million — as of February 26, according to BoxOfficeMojo.

At present, indie drama “Moonlight” has earned $22.3 million and counting since its October 2016 domestic-only release. After it was announced as an Academy Awards Best Picture contender on January 24, the film surged in popularity. It was shown in a peak 1,104 theaters the week after the announcement and brought in a total of $6.3 million during the five-week period leading up to the Oscars.

Best Picture Oscar Winners Keep on Winning

By the time many Oscar-winning films are crowned top honors, the film has usually run its course at box offices. However, this prestigious honor has a habit of causing a resurgence in ticket sales.

At the 2016 Academy Awards, “Spotlight” garnered Best Picture honors. Going into Oscar week, the film had generated $38.4 million in profits. The Oscars were held on Feb. 28, and during that week and the next nine that followed, “Spotlight” brought in a total of $5.3 million, until it finally tapped out at $45.1 million domestically on May 5. Overall, the Best Picture winner generated $88.3 million at box offices worldwide.

In 2015, “Birdman” won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The film generated $36.9 million in profits going into Oscar week, as of Feb. 19, 2015. The Oscar winners were announced on Feb. 22, and during that week and the following seven, it generated more than $4 million at box offices domestically. “Birdman” exited theaters April 16, with $42.3 million in domestic earnings and a worldwide total of $103.2 million.

What the Future Holds for PricewaterhouseCooper

PwC has had the prestigious job of counting Oscar ballots since 1935, but Sunday’s blunder could put a major black mark on their industry reputation.

The more than 100-year-old London-based auditing firm released a statement early Monday morning about the mishap.

“The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected,” it said. “We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”

It’s unclear how much PwC earns to tabulate the Oscar winners, but the firm’s 2010 tax returns show they charged the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nearly $169,000 for “accounting services.”

Only time will tell if the Academy decides to cut ties with PwC in favor of other large firms, like Deliotte, who tabulates GRAMMY winners for The Recording Academy.

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