What is an Oscar worth? A study done by Entertainment Data Inc. predicts that the producers of the best picture winner can count on a cool $20-million windfall. At least, that has been the average post-Oscar box office on the best picture winners since “Gandhi” swept the board in 1982. “Gandhi” did 73% of its $52.7 million theatrical business after the Academy Award nominations were announced that year. Of the best picture winners in the last six years, 1983’s “Terms of Endearment” was least affected by the Oscar (it grossed $14.5 million after winning the big prize), but it had been an immediate box office hit and was almost played out when the Oscars were given. Other best picture winners and their post-Academy Award victory performances: “Amadeus” (1984), $17.5 million; “Out of Africa” (1985), $17.4 million; “Platoon” (1986), $35.2 million; “The Last Emperor” (1987), $18.9 million. Of course, what the study doesn’t show, and no one knows, is how much these films would have earned if they’d lost.
<i> Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press</i>