2013 Oscar Nominees: What ‘Her’ Means for Time Warner Inc.

Joaquin Phoenix falls for a software interface in the unusual love story, Her. Sources: Facebook, Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Whether you call it sci-fi or a quirky love story, there's no denying the artistic appeal of five-time nominee Her. Commercial appeal, on the other hand, has proven to be more elusive for distributor Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) , says Fool contributor Tim Beyers in the following video.

Starring Joaquin Phoenix as a writer who falls for an intelligent software system that caters to every whim, Box Office Mojo places Her primarily in the "Romantic Comedy-Fantasy" category alongside such films as Walt Disney's Splash (1984), Paramount's Down to Earth (2001), and Warner's Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009). Yet unlike those films, Her is a potential Oscar winner in the following categories:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Original Screenplay (Spike Jonze)
  • Achievement in Art Direction
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Original Song ("The Moon Song" by Karen O and Spike Jonze)

Curious moviegoers showed up to see the film behind the buzz. Her earned 56.6% of its $24.1 million U.S. box office haul following its nomination to the "Best Picture" list. Worldwide, the film ended a 10-week box office run having earned $30.3 million in grosses.

A decent run, Tim says, but also nowhere near enough. Warner spent an estimated $23 million to produce this contender. Figure another $23 million for marketing and distribution and Her needed at least $46 million in gross profit to break box office even. Instead, the film appears to have generated just $15.15 million for Warner after accounting for cinemas' 50% cut. Profitability is probably too far off for even a long-shot Best Picture win to make a difference.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. How do you rate Her's chances at the Oscars? Did you see the film? Please watch the video to get Tim's full take and then leave a comment to let us know where you stand, and whether you would buy, sell, or short Time Warner stock at current prices.

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