March is the richest month for Oscar-nominated films in the North American market, as cinema-goers scramble to see the contenders before March 24. The international picture, however, is different.

Mike Goodridge looks at the films with nominations in key categories and how they are being opened across the world to cash in on Oscar fever.

Number of nominations: 2
Key nominations: actor, supporting actor
North American distributor: Columbia Pictures
North American release date: Dec 25, 2001
North American gross to date (at March 17): $58.2m
International distributor: Initial Entertainment Group (IEG)

Ali's release was designed to follow the end-of-year prestige picture pattern: late December domestic release followed by an international launch at the Berlin film festival and wide release before the Academy Awards.

However, Ali turned out to be, as IEG head Graham King admits, "a bizarre ride". First, the film opened on Christmas Day in North America to a spectacular $10.2m - the highest Dec 25 opening in history - raising foreign buyers' expectations, before tumbling fast. Then King pulled it from Berlin since he had not closed his German deal.

"But," he says, "confidence among the international distributors is rising. The Oscar nominations are a big deal and prove the film is getting recognition. Openings in the UK and Australia have been strong, so other distributors are looking at it and seeing those numbers. It is essential that the distributors have confidence in the movie - I want to prove a point that it can work well overseas."

Number of nominations: 1
Key nomination: animated feature
North American distributor: Paramount Pictures
North American release date: Dec 21, 2001
North American gross to date (at March 17): $80.4m
International distributor: Paramount/UIP

Already open in France, Belgium and Switzerland, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius can only benefit from its Oscar nomination in the inaugural best animated feature category against Shrek and Monsters, Inc. "It's a great publicity tool for us," explains UIP president and COO Andrew Kripps, "and a further brand of quality for parents taking children to see it in addition to Nickelodeon Movies."

The film opens in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America and South Africa over Easter - territories where Nickelodeon, the TV channel on which Jimmy Neutron first appeared, has a strong presence.

Number of nominations: 13
Key nominations: picture, director, supporting actor, screenplay
North American distributor: New Line Cinema
North American release date: Dec 19, 2001
North American gross to date (at March 17): $294.3m
International distributor: New Line International

With an international cumulative gross in approaching $500m, The Fellowship Of The Ring is already one of the biggest international grossers of all time. Academy Award recognition will only serve to keep the film in theatres and drive that even higher. Most territories opened the film day and date with North America on Dec 19 - in keeping with New Line's global opening strategy, formulated two years ago. Ironically, the one territory that stood to gain from the record number of nominations was the world's most lucrative - Japan - which was pushed back to March to avoid conflict with AOL Time Warner stablemate Warner Bros' Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone.

Fellowship opened with $6.8m in its first two days - 620,000 admissions from 600 screens. Nippon Herald, handling the film in tandem with Shochiku, has set a target of $113m After three weeks it has reached $26.5m. While the opening was impressive, it paled next to Harry Potter's opening in November of $12.8m (1.38 million admissions) on 340 screens.

Number of nominations: 2
Key nominations: actress, screenplay
North American distributor: Lions Gate Films
North American release date: Dec 26, 2001
North American gross to date (at March 17): $17.5m
International distributor: Lions Gate Films

Oscar buzz on Monster's Ball has already pushed its domestic gross to more than $17m. "People are going while the buzz is hot," says Nick Meyer, the co-president of Lions Gate Films International. Actress Halle Berry's Silver Bear win at the Berlin film festival helps both Oscar heat domestically and audience awareness internationally. But, adds co-president Sergei Yershov, the film is not being rushed into international release to capitalise on Berry's chances for an Oscar: "The movie stands by itself. It is great counter-programming for spring and early summer, and the Oscar heat helps distributors book screens in the summer. But buyers believe in the movie and are not rushing to release it. It is not just an arthouse movie, as the US run shows. Distributors like Entertainment and Metropolitan are planning to spill it out of the arthouse and into the multiplexes."

Number of nominations: 8
Key nominations: picture, actress
North American distributor: 20th Century Fox
North American release date: May 18, 2001
North American gross to date (at Feb 24): $57.2m
International distributor: 20th Century Fox

Moulin Rouge was the only best picture nominee available on video and DVD in the US at the time of the nominations announcement, having run in theatres since last May. Sales of the DVD, acclaimed for its myriad extras, rose 160% in the week after the nominations, prompting an increase in retail re-orders of some 1,400%. Fox estimates the video and DVD have generated more than $70m. In the international markets, the film was an even bigger theatrical hit, taking some $115m. DVD and home video releases are timed to coincide with the Oscar heat, which intensified last weekend when the PGA named the film its best of 2001. "We have a big opportunity as we are the only nominated best picture you can now own," says Keith Feldman, executive vice president, sales & marketing, for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment International. "It is a very exciting point of difference versus the other best picture nominations and, as a result, we have developed a release strategy and marketing campaign to capitalise on this."

Number of nominations: 2
Key nominations: actor, supporting actor
North American distributor: Warner Bros
North American release date: Oct 5, 2001
North American gross to date (at Feb 24): $76.3m
International distributor: Warner Bros/Village Roadshow

Training Day opened internationally after a European launch at the Venice film festival last September, enjoying strong reviews but a so-so cumulative gross to date of $28.3m, despite its domestic run generating $76.3m last October. As awards momentum gathered for Denzel Washington's lead performance resulting in an Oscar nomination for him and for Ethan Hawke in the supporting actor category, Warner Bros re-released the film in six Los Angeles and New York theatres to refresh the memories of Academy voters before the March 19 video and DVD release of the film. International video and DVD releases are spread through from April to the summer, although the UK - where the film has only recently played theatrically - and Japan will follow later in the year. Washington and Hawke's Oscar recognition, whether it is translated into gold or not, is sure to give a boost to demand fo