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Oscar Nomination More Bankable than Winning

By Jim Boulden, CNN
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
  • Les Mis is coming out in the UK and Europe but is still in theatres in key markets in the USA and Asia
  • European' films are not dependent on making a splash in U.S. theatres, said Fellner

Editor's note: Jim Boulden is a correspondent for CNN's international programming based in London, where he covers a wide range of business and news stories. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- It was a rare privilege to sit down with Eric Fellner of Working Title Films just hours after his films Les Miserables and Anna Karenina were nominated for Oscars, and a day after getting a host of BAFTA nods as well.

Fellner was all business in our interview.

Nominations are absolutely bankable. "It is, categorically, a financial benefit, if your film is still in release," Fellner told me.

Read more: 'Lincoln' leads field in British film awards nominations

Les Mis is only now coming out in the UK and Europe but is still in theatres in key markets in the USA and parts of Asia, so this free publicity of nominations is priceless.

I guess actually receiving any of the awards down the line will matter more to DVD sales and rentals.

Fellner says the studio will still "spending money to advertise the fact that the film is opening, and that it got this many nominations."

It's certain that getting nominations will help with these two period films, giving they are based on 19th century novels, and Les Mis is a musical.

"It's quite tough," to get people to watch a musical, Fellner said. "When you look at the financials of a musical going in, thinking, 'What are the comparables, what's doing business days?' And you realize, actually there have only been four or five musicals in the past decade. And only a couple of them have made any money, so it's risky."

Interestingly, Fellner told me that his 'European' films are not dependent on making a splash in U.S. theatres. He says European films simply cost less to make than Hollywood blockbusters and that his comedies often make more money outside the USA. He said Working Title's international receipts on a percentage basis "have gone way up."

But he says it's critical to the British film industry that the tax credit has survived government budget cuts. If not, he says the British film industry "would be practically non existent" as it would be cheaper to shoot in many U.S. states or in Eastern Europe.

British films continue to be shot in Britain and the nominations are proof that business model is working.

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