Paramount Taking Box Office Success 'Flight' Directly To Academy Voters; Film Is Dedicated To Ed Limato

EXCLUSIVE: With an estimated $25 million boxoffice haul on only 1900 screens (see Nikki’s boxoffice report) in its opening weekend, Paramount’s gamble on the $30 million adult drama Flight looks like it is paying off. That’s certainly sweet news for star Denzel Washington and director Robert Zemeckis who didn’t take their usual hefty upfront fees in a bet on the quality of the movie alone. It also makes a nice memorium for Washington’s late agent Ed Limato to whom the film is dedicated in the end credits. Washington confirmed it was the final script (out of several that were offered at the time) that Limato hoped he would do. Shortly before he died Limato was again able to communicate that hope. The film’s dedication to Limato is a strong and poignant reminder of the bond between the star and his longtime agent.

Related: ‘Flight’ Crash Sequence Effects – Video

In addition to boxoffice success Paramount is now moving aggressively with a big Oscar campaign for the film. The film got an enthusiastic response at an overflow screening for SAG and Academy members Saturday afternoon at the Writers Guild Theatre. It also drew well over 500 to its official Academy screening across the street at the Goldwyn later Saturday night with “sustained” applause at the end, according to one observer. Both were followed by Q&As with Washington, Zemeckis, scene-stealing co-star John Goodman and screenwriter John Gatins. The group also hit the official BAFTA screening yesterday and Zemeckis and Gatins even appeared at a public showing at Arclight Saturday night. Busy day for the awards push.

Certainly two-time winner Washington would seem to be a slam dunk for another acting nomination. Now that the film has opened Paramount campaign consultants tell me they are taking a “tonal shift” in some of the marketing by targeting a new 90-second “Academy” trailer specifically to awards voters. The piece highlights the ensemble cast in hopes of getting SAG nominating committee attention too. “We’re getting out our message early via actor-centric websites and areas where actors congregate online, including social media outlets. Waiting until after opening weekend allows us to highlight the critical raves which serve the dual purpose of continuing to engage movie goers along with capturing the attention of voters,” said a key Paramount awards strategist. The studio is also working on other Academy-centric trailers highlighting director, screenwriter and crafts teams that will be rolling out  before Oscar voting kicks in starting December 17.  Here is an exclusive look at the new Academy focused trailer:

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  1. Making the right moves. Welcome back Zemeckis, this film is well made and such a great character portrayal by Denzel. Thoroughly engaged from start to finish.

    1. This movie bummed me out. Based on the TRAILER, one expects some kind of courtroom drama and fascinating aircraft investigation. INSTEAD, we get a movie primarily about alcoholism.

      I went expecting one thing – and got something completely different. These people who cut trailers (or the moron execs who direct them) should be fired for deliberate & misleading advertising. It misrepresents the movie’s primary content & story. If the studio had so little faith in the picture as a whole, it should have passed and let another company make it. This whole misleading trailer business just steams me and many others.

      Hey – if the movie’s about an degenerate alchololic, fine! But at least tell the truth about what this picture’s about. Don’t make it out to be something else.

  2. Did you seriously just compare Denzel Washington to “Master P and Bow Wow?” Not even in the same league… Not even playing the same game!

  3. Great movie. “Leaving Las Vegas” with a better ending. Kudos to Denzel and yet another amazing performance from John Goodman (see “Argo” as well) should give him at least one supporting nod. Almost invisible amongst the cast was Melissa Leo, in a small but pivotal role.

  4. My personal wish is that some of the nomination attention goes to Kelly Reilly, who was terrific in the movie. Denzel get nominated seems like a done deal.

  5. Don’t know how to describe what a “star” is, as opposed to a great actor. Denzel happens to be both….a very rare combination. He’s totally different in every movie, but he’s a guy you’d like to have a beer with. Plane crash movie, top star, supporting cast and director and a crash scene worthy of an oscar, by itself, a recipe for a major critical and box office hit. More than that, what about the connection between a plane out of control and an addict out of control ? Kudos to all. Great tribute for Ed Limato.

  6. Very Classy move by Denzel and Zemeckis. Limato was a spectacular agent that really heart and back into representing his clients.

  7. In the annals of the Academy history, this movie deserves to listed with the greatest movies of all time. Certainly, the performance by Mr. Washington is up there with Steiger, Tracey, O’Toole, Brando, Burton, Bogart and all those legends that left us stunned with awe. Mr. Goodman’s performance, especially in his last scene, will be shown at the Academy Awards along with all the other great supporting actors that will steal the hearts of theater goers forever, let alone this movie.

    Bravo to All Concerned

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