February 27, 2024

TDmonthly Magazine

February 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 2

Hollywood ToyBoy: Do Oscars Predict Toy Sales?

Thar’s Gold in Them Gold Statues

By Mark Zaslove
February 2008

“...24 out of the last 25 years, the Best Picture winner was a clear bellwether for Play Sales.”
“Barricade the doors! Board up the windows! It’s the end of the world as we know it!” Yup, it’s the time of year we vote for those little golden statues that mean so much to our egos and so little to the world in general.

“Jessie!” I yell to my beleaguered assistant who’s in the middle of alphabetizing my socks. “Get me PriceWaterhouseCoopers!” It seems, TDmonthly Magazine has learned, that the Academy Awards are a divining rod for ... toy sales?


“What people don’t know unless they’re in the know,” confided a legal buddy of mine who works for a studio making merger and acquisition deals, “is that 24 out of the last 25 years, the Best Picture winner was a clear bellwether for Play Sales” — a Hollywood term for merchandise that is toy-, game- and entertainment-targeted.

He pulled out some math and flourished it like a Vegas magician. “When the winning picture had grossed in the top 6 percentile, Play Sales hit new highs. Anything else, and it was going to be a rocky year.”

An ex-professor buddy of mine, who now consults for a celebrity actor’s production company smiled and put a forefinger against his nose, a la “The Sting,” when I asked about this phenomenon.

“In the 1980s ... the public became enamored with movie grosses. It was like ‘mini skirt economies’ — when pictures grossed big, people spent on higher-ticket items and more of them. Whether it’s the cart or the horse, one can only guess. Keep it to yourself, though.”

Ha, fat chance. But what good is this knowledge?


“Don’t you see?” exclaimed a model-turned-jewelry-mogul friend as she picked at her sushi with her fingers. “It’s like knowing someone’s cards in poker. When a Best Picture is big, put out all the big-ticket items and push ‘em. Stock up on the expensive stuff and make a killing. When it’s a ‘small’ picture, hold back, put out the smaller-ticket items and stand pat. You can’t lose.”

You can’t lose. I like those words. They don’t usually go together with Hollywood, where losing is an art form. Could this possibly be the golden goose? All I know is I’m going to play the stock market on Feb. 25 and see for myself.

(Take a look at the chart below and see if the Big Picture matches up with your store’s sales history.)

Next month: Hidden Secrets to Success

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