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Battered But Not Beaten, The Film Academy Discloses Its Fiscal 2020 Finances

Michael Cieply
·2 min read

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was battered, but not quite beaten, by rising expenses, falling investment income and an increasing debt load in its fiscal year ended June 30, according to a financial report disclosed to bondholders on Thursday.

According to the 35-page report, which is posted on the Electronic Municipal Market Access web site, the Academy’s increase in net assets from operations — roughly, the nonprofit equivalent of operating profit — fell by half in the fiscal year, to about $33.8 million from $67.3 million a year earlier. Revenue from the Oscars edged up slightly, to $131.9 million in 2020 from $131.8 million in 2019. But Oscar-related costs also crept up, to about $42 million from $41.4 million, while net investment income fell by more than 78 percent, to about $5.1 million from $23.4 million a year earlier.

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As of June 30, well into the coronavirus lockdowns, the Academy had shifted money out of bond-oriented mutual funds — reducing those to $154.3 million from $252.7 million a year earlier — while boosting its cash and short-term holdings to about 153.9 million, up from $14.8 million the previous year. In other words, the Academy’s investors at that point had moved money to the metaphorical mattress.

At the same time, various costs were growing. Notably, spending on public outreach programs doubled, to $12.7 million in the 2020 fiscal year from $6.2 million in 2019.

Total assets held by the Academy and its related entities rose by 13.5 percent in the fiscal year, to about $1.34 billion from $1.18 billion a year earlier. But debt grew by around 38 percent, to $488 million from $353 million, and total liabilities rose 31 percent, to $654 million from $423 million. The result was growth in net assets of just 4 percent, to about $789 million from $757 million a year earlier.

A large portion of the Academy’s assets, according to the report, consists land, buildings, and equipment, including the yet-to-open museum. Net of depreciation, those assets were valued at $544.3 million, up about 18 percent from $461.3 million in 2019.