"Erin Brockovich" Is Americans' Top Choice for Best Picture

by Darren K. Carlson

"Gladiator" is a close second

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ – Americans' choice for Best Picture in the upcoming Oscar awards is the drama "Erin Brockovich," but among frequent moviegoers – a group that might be closer in their views to the Motion Picture Academy members who vote for the award – the winner is "Gladiator." One of the reasons for the popularity of these two pictures is that relatively few Americans have seen any of the other three nominated films – "Traffic," "Chocolat," and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." These and other findings are based on a new Gallup poll conducted March 15-18 that examines several aspects of the motion picture industry, including public opinion of the events, people, and awards associated with the 73rd annual Academy Awards.

Among Americans, "Erin Brockovich," starring Best Actress nominee Julia Roberts, leads the Best Picture category with 32% of all mentions, followed by "Gladiator" with 27%. Of the remaining five nominated films "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is chosen by 10%, "Traffic" receives 8%, and "Chocolat" 5%. Among frequent moviegoers (those who have seen five or more movies in theaters over a 12-month period), "Gladiator" wins with 35%, followed by "Erin Brockovich" with 30% and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" with 17%. "Traffic" and "Chocolat" get 7% and 6%, respectively.

The public's preference for best picture is very closely tied to the pictures they have actually seen. Forty-eight percent of Americans report having seen "Erin Brockovich," and 41% have seen "Gladiator," while less than 10% of the public indicates having seen each of the other three nominated films. In fact, only 10% of Americans have seen three or more of the nominated films, and a very small percentage (2%) have seen four or five.

Women are more likely than men to have seen "Erin Brockovich," (51% to 45%), while more men say they have seen "Gladiator" (46% to 37%). Consistent with this, "Erin Brockovich" is the favorite movie among women (chosen by 40% of women and 24% of men), while "Gladiator" is named as the best movie by 37% of men and just 17% of women.

Awareness of this year's nominated films is low. Sixty-nine percent of Americans asked in an open-ended format to nameanyof the movies nominated for best picture this year could not come up with a single one. Americans were most likely to mention "Erin Brockovich" or "Gladiator" as films that were nominated for Best Picture – named by 15% and 14% of the public, respectively. The other nominated films were all mentioned by fewer than 10% of the public – "Chocolat" (9%), "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (8%), and Traffic (7%). Interestingly, the film "Castaway" was mentioned by 5% of the public as a Best Picture nominee even though it is not up for the award (though its star Tom Hanks is nominated for Best Actor).

Of course, the fact that "Erin Brockovich" and "Gladiator" are at the top of the list of the average American's wish list for the Best Picture winner has no official bearing on what will be revealed Sunday night; the actual votes are cast by the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As the table below shows, of the six times Gallup has asked Americans to name their favorite among the Oscar-nominated films, their choice has matched the Academy's half of the time.

Year

Americans' pick

Eventual winner

1993

"A Few Good Men"

"Unforgiven"

1994

"Schindler's List"

"Schindler's List"

1995

"Forrest Gump"

"Forrest Gump"

1998

"Titanic"

"Titanic"

1999

"Saving Private Ryan"

"Shakespeare In Love"

2000

"The Green Mile"

"American Beauty"

The Audience and the Host
The "Oscars" (which air on Sunday, March 25th) are often regarded as one of the most important events in Hollywood. The event draws immense media attention but doesn't exactly capture Americans' collective attention. This year, 43% of Americans indicate that they intend to watch the award ceremony, while 51% say they probably will not. Contextually, a nearly identical number of Americans (44%) said they would watch the final episode of the sitcom "Seinfeld," in spring 1998. But, the Oscars do not rank near pro football's Super Bowl in terms of viewers; 65% of Americans said they would watch that event in 2000.

The poll suggests that the Oscar audience on Sunday night will skew towards female watchers. Fifty-one percent of women say they will watch compared to just 34% of men. Also, younger Americans are more apt to watch the broadcast, as 52% of 18-29 year olds say they will watch compared to 44% of 30-49 year olds and 38% of those over age 50.

Actor/Comedian Steve Martin is slated to host the show this year. Gallup's survey shows he will have to work hard to overcome the popular legacy of previous hosts. When asked which of four personalities they would most like to see host the Academy Awards – Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, or Steve Martin -- Crystal (who hosted in 2000 and several other times in the 1990s) tops the list with 37%, followed by Goldberg at 22%, Martin at 20%, and Letterman at 14%.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with randomly selected national sample of 800 adults, 18 years and older, conducted March 15-18, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 4 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Do you plan on watching this year's Academy Awards broadcast on Sunday March 25, or not?

 

 

Yes
%

No
%

No opinion
%

       

2001 Mar 15-18

43

51

6



If it were up to you, who would you be most interested in watching host the Academy Awards ceremonies this year – [ROTATED: Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, (or) Steve Martin]?

 

 

Billy
Crystal
%

Whoopi Goldberg
%

Steve
Martin
%

David Letterman
%

No
opinion
%

           

2001 Mar 15-18

37

22

20

14

7



Are you aware of any of the five movies nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture this year? [Open ended] PROBE: Any others?[Allow five mentions]

 

 

2001 Mar 15-18

 

(Percent Mentioning)
%

   

Nominated Films

 

"Erin Brockovich"

15

"Gladiator"

14

"Chocolat"

9

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"

8

"Traffic"

7

   

Non-nominated Films

 

"Castaway"

5

"Almost Famous"

1

"Hannibal "

1

   

None

40

Other

3

No opinion

29



Please tell me for each of these movies, whether you have already seen it, if you haven't seen it but you expect to see it sometime, or if you do not expect to see it at all. How about [ROTATED]?

  1. "Chocolat" [CHO-kuh-LAHT]
  2.  

     


    Already
    seen it
    %


    Not seen it, expect to
    %

    Not seen
    it, don't
    expect to
    %

    NOT SEEN IT, DON'T KNOW (vol.)
    %


    No
    opinion
    %

               

    2001 Mar 15-18

    6

    27

    54

    13

    *



  3. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
  4.  

     


    Already
    seen it
    %


    Not seen it, expect to
    %

    Not seen
    it, don't
    expect to
    %

    NOT SEEN IT, DON'T KNOW (vol.)
    %


    No
    opinion
    %

               

    2001 Mar 15-18

    9

    29

    54

    8

    *



  5. "Erin Brockovich"
  6.  

     


    Already
    seen it
    %


    Not seen it, expect to
    %

    Not seen
    it, don't
    expect to
    %

    NOT SEEN IT, DON'T KNOW (vol.)
    %


    No
    opinion
    %

               

    2001 Mar 15-18

    48

    19

    28

    5

    *



  7. "Gladiator"
  8.  

     


    Already
    seen it
    %


    Not seen it, expect to
    %

    Not seen
    it, don't
    expect to
    %

    NOT SEEN IT, DON'T KNOW (vol.)
    %


    No
    opinion
    %

               

    2001 Mar 15-18

    41

    21

    35

    3

    0



  9. "Traffic"

 

 


Already
seen it
%


Not seen it, expect to
%

Not seen
it, don't
expect to
%

NOT SEEN IT, DON'T KNOW (vol.)
%


No
opinion
%

           

2001 Mar 15-18

7

38

45

10

*

           

(vol.)=Volunteered Response

         

*Less than 0.5%

         


At the Academy Awards ceremony this year, which one of the following movies would you like to see win the Oscar award for Best Picture of the Year – [ROTATED: "Chocolat," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Erin Brockovich," "Gladiator," (or) "Traffic"]?

 

 

2001 Mar 15-18
%

   

"Erin Brockovich"

32

"Gladiator"

27

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"

10

"Traffic"

8

"Chocolat"

5

   

No opinion

18



Get Articles in Related Topics:


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/1879/erin-brockovich-americans-top-choice-best-picture.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030