''It's an honor just to be nominated.'' That's what Oscar nominees always say, whether they win or not. But it's also very lucrative to be nominated. According to Variety, films that capitalize on their nominations can expect to see their total box office to date rise by at least 25 percent, and probably more if they actually win in their categories. As soon as the nominations were announced on Jan. 27, studios moved to expand the theatrical runs of their nominated movies by as much as 300 percent.
Charlize Theron's ''Monster'' more than tripled its theater count from 330 to 1,093. Of the $24 million it has earned so far, nearly $18 million has come since Theron was nominated for Best Actress four weeks ago. Warner Bros. had been gradually expanding the run of ''Mystic River,'' correctly anticipating its Best Picture nomination. The film went from 1,194 theaters before the nominations to 1,370 after, adding another $20 million in ticket sales to the $59 million it had earned since its October opening. New Line did not expand the domestic run of Oscar front-runner ''The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,'' but the studio has ridden the Oscar momentum to a worldwide gross of $1 billion, making it the first movie since ''Titanic'' to do so.
Some nominated films -- notably, ''Whale Rider,'' ''Seabiscuit,'' ''Lost in Translation,'' and ''City of God'' -- have seen a double boost, since they've already been released on DVD. Newmarket has spent extra on its advertising for ''Whale Rider'' to emphazise the Best Actress nomination of 13-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes, while Universal has brought Best Picture nominee ''Seabiscuit'' back into theaters, on about 50 screens, according to the Reporter. Miramax has marked the four surprise nominations for ''City of God'' by rereleasing the film on more than 200 screens this weekend, adding $1.7 million to the film's $4.8 million gross.
Miramax certainly knows how big the Oscar bounce can be for a little-seen film. Before last year's Oscar nominations, the studio's ''Chicago'' had earned $64 million; by the end of its Oscar-winning run, it rang up $171 million.