David O. Russell's American Hustle tells the story of a sting operation gone sideways. Yet for studio partner Sony Corporation ( SONY 3.11% ), the film is a straight-up financial success. Fool contributor Tim Beyers explains in the following video.
Starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner, Box Office Mojo places American Hustle in its "That '70s Movie" category alongside such films as New Line's Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), Twenty-First Century Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), and Universal's two-time Oscar winner Apollo 13 (1995). American Hustle has a chance to set a new standard for the genre with 10 nominations in the following categories:
- Best Picture
- Best Director (David O. Russell)
- Best Actor (Christian Bale)
- Best Actress (Amy Adams)
- Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper)
- Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence)
- Best Original Screenplay (David O. Russell and Eric Singer)
- Best Achievement in Editing
- Best Achievement in Art Direction
- Best Achievement in Costume Design
Odds favor the film taking home a handful of statues Sunday night. And yet, looking at the financial picture, Sony already has plenty to celebrate. American Hustle has generated $229.4 million in worldwide grosses as of this writing. Roughly $144.6 million of that is from U.S. box office sales, of which 27.7% came after the film joined the list of "Best Picture" nominees in mid-January.
All strong figures, Tim says, made stronger when considered in the context of a $40 million production budget. Adding another $40 million for marketing and distribution puts box-office break-even at just $80 million. As of this writing, American Hustle is nearing $115 million in profit after factoring in cinemas' 50% cut of theater ticket sales. That's a win no matter what happens Sunday night.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. How do you rate American Hustle'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 Sony stock at current prices.