$50K for Best Picture? What Campaign Consultants Earn for Oscars

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From a $25,000 flat monthly fee to the big bonuses each win can bring, a contract obtained by The Hollywood Reporter — and verified by several sources — reveals the money that strategists can earn during awards season.

The two decades since World War Oscar Shakespeare in Love vs. Saving Private Ryan — have seen an ever-escalating awards-season arms race.

And for top-tier Oscar consultants, it's a lucrative one: Fees go far beyond monthly retainers to include generous bonuses for wins and nominations, according to a contract obtained by THR and verified by several sources.

In-demand experts often work on two or three films in any given year, even if the movies are from dueling studios. One caveat: “Consultant will give Company prior notice of existing projects and any proposed new projects during the Term,” states the contract reviewed by THR.

Consultants can start working on a film as early as Aug. 1 in advance of the fall film festivals, guaranteeing a long stretch of work and a flush monthly retainer of $25,000. (Sometimes a top consultant will reduce their fee if an indie company is cash-strapped.) The lengthy list of duties includes voter outreach, monitoring the competition, arranging screenings, working with awards press, sending out screeners, general strategy and more.

Bonus fees for nominations and wins are divided into three categories.

The coveted best picture contest stands apart from all the rest. The going rate for a nomination is $25,000, and another $50,000 for a win.

A nomination for best director, best actress or best actor is rewarded by a bonus of $10,000, and another $20,000 for a victory.

The bonus for a nomination for original screenplay, adapted screenplay, actor in a supporting role, actress in a supporting role, cinematography, best song, original score, film editing, art direction, visual effects, costume design, sound mixing or sound editing is $5,000, with an additional $10,000 for a win.

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.