LOS ANGELES -- ''The Cider House Rules'' doubled its money. ''American Beauty'' climbed past $100 million. ''The Sixth Sense'' is creeping toward the all-time top 10.
Just what are the Oscars worth? Tens of millions of dollars at the box office for some top nominees.
Many moviegoers are in their annual Oscar mode, scrambling to see best-picture contenders and other films with big nominations before they watch the Academy Awards this Sunday.
''Mainstream audiences across the country look for reasons to see a movie that maybe they haven't felt compelled to see yet,'' said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations Co., which tracks movie admissions.
''Oscar nominations are de facto word of mouth from a source they trust. Rather than a friend saying you've got to go see this movie, it's the Academy saying, 'Go see it.'''
DreamWorks pulled ''American Beauty'' from all but a few theaters the weekend before Oscar nominations came out in mid-February, with plans to re-release it right after. The movie received a leading eight nominations, and is now in its its widest release yet, 1,650 theaters. It has added $28 million to its gross, hitting $103 million last weekend.
''American Beauty'' was a record 20th movie released last year to top $100 million, a figure it probably would not have approached without its best-picture and other nominations.
''I would love to tell you I knew this was going to happen, but when the movie came out, it would have been difficult for me to think it would do more than $35 million to $50 million,'' said Jim Tharp, DreamWorks' head of distribution.
Smaller movies also benefit from the Oscars. With acting nominations for Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny, arthouse favorite ''Boys Don't Cry'' has risen from $3.7 million before the nominations to $6.8 million as of last weekend.
With seven nominations, including one for best picture, ''The Cider House Rules'' quickly cashed in. In fairly narrow release, ''Cider House'' had grossed just $22.7 million before the nominations, but distributor Miramax has more than doubled the theater count to 1,738 since then.
Like Miramax' best-picture contenders last year, ''Shakespeare in Love'' and ''Life Is Beautiful,'' the Oscar nominations have helped double the take for ''Cider House'' to $45.8 million.
Last year's surprise blockbuster ''The Sixth Sense'' is on the verge of moving into 10th place all-time at the box office.
Disney quadrupled the ghost story's theater count, to about 800, the weekend before the nominations. Since grabbing six nominations, including best picture, ''The Sixth Sense'' has rung up an additional $6.5 million, for a total of $288.5 million. That is just $1.8 million shy of ''The Empire Strikes Back.''
The best-picture nomination for ''The Green Mile'' has helped the death row saga add $10 million to its gross, pushing it to $134.4 million.
The fifth best-picture hopeful, ''The Insider,'' is the only nominee that failed to capitalize. The movie took in a disappointing $26.7 million before the nominations and has added just $1.6 million since.
Audiences may have viewed the story of real-life tobacco whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand and his ''60 Minutes'' interview as too cerebral.
''It's an older demographic that watches '60 Minutes,''' Dergarabedian said. ''Those viewers will probably wait for the movie on video.''
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