OSCARS: Paramount Courts Academy Voters For 'Noah' And It's Only April!

Are you kidding?

Did Paramount just officially start the 2014 Oscar campaign even as we are barely getting the Emmys off the ground and theRussell Crowe as Noah Tonys are two months away? Uh, yes. Looks like it. One top studio exec (not from Paramount) forwarded me an email he got yesterday from the Paramount Awards Office that pronounced free admission starting April 15th – two by two for Academy members and a guest- to screenings of Noah at theaters nationwide – but only Monday thru Thursday since most theater owners usually don’t like to give up seats on the weekends, especially to rich and famous movie types.

Related: Can ‘Noah’ And ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ Overcome Oscar’s Greatest Curse: A March Release Date?

Paramount-Pictures-Logo“Didn’t the awards season just end?” this exasperated exec asked me? Yes, and in fact Academy members are routinely given this courtesy only during awards season, and even then usually at least a couple of weeks after a movie opens. But doing it this early in the year is a rare and highly unusual move. Many exhibitors find the whole practice a hassle, no matter what time of year, but put up with it for the most part albeit with restrictions. It’s true some Academy members have turned up at theaters and think they can flash their card to get into any movie, like it’s an annual pass. It’s not. I know of one member who tried to use their card for a Best Picture hopeful in December but was told they had to pay. They got so upset they threatened never to vote for another film from that studio. Overall though most members know how the game is played.

The Paramount email goes on to list the participating theaters, including AMC and Cinemark across their national chains, AMC-theatreArcLight in Southern California  and smaller outlets targeting voters in Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and Cathedral City along with Bow Tie Cinemas in New York. The letter also specifically mentions the names  of the key creatives in every category it would be eligible right down to a song called “Father Song (Lullaby)” written by Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye and star Russell Crowe. The email notes this offer is specifically available only for showings of Noah (although you could probably sneak into Captain America instead if you are clever about it, Oscar voters). To get the freebie tickets though members are required to present their membership card, a photo ID AND a copy of the email from Paramount. Think of it as a permission slip. All this just for a free movie? It might be easier to just try for the senior discount instead.

noah-posterStudios are now turning to this more direct way of informing Academy members they can use their elite status to get into theaters gratis to see contenders. It used to just be a snipe at the bottom of newspaper ads that carried this information but those ads are becoming more scarce (and more detailed with specific instructions in small very fine print) especially as a film gets deeper into its run  – the most likely time studios decide to hand out free admissions to Oscar voters. But it’s extremely rare in April folks, and it certainly indicates  Paramount is planning to mount an Oscar campaign for their biblical epic which has grossed nearly $250 million worldwide with $85 million of that coming from its domestic run since its March 28th release. It’s also got a decent 77% fresh score from Rotten Tomatoes. As I previously pointed out it’s very difficult for an early-in-the-year release like Noah to gain traction in the major categories. The last March release to gain a Best Picture nomination was Erin Brockovich in 2000. But Paramount has been proving lately that a slow-as-it-goes long distance strategy can work. The studio started a grass roots campaign for Nebraska in July, shortly after its debut in Cannes and kept an excel sheet of every Academy member who attended those numerous screenings which numbered more than 2,500 just from their private showings one studio source told me at the time. Nebraska went on to win six nominations including Best Picture. Of course it’s not the same situation as Noah since that movie wasn’t commercially released until November 15th, right in the heart of awards season.

Any way you cut it April is not the heart of awards season, but don’t tell that to Paramount who apparently just said ‘game on’.

  1. This might not be an early award campaign but a good reaction by the film makers to a situation.
    The Samuel Goldwyn theater is closed for renovation until August or September.
    All the membership screenings are scheduled to be at the Linwood Dunn theater on Vine in Hollywood.
    It is quite a trek for west siders and has very limited seating with a smallish screen.
    Even if you do decide to take the trek…you might be turned away because the small theater will be full.

    1. It has the same Rotten Tomatoes score as The Wolf of Wall Street, another controversial Paramount film. So, I’m sorry if I don’t get your joke…

  2. best visual effects- sound editing and maybe best actor. Thats all folks. No best pic here. its early and it wasn’t that good

  3. My guess is, and this is a very plausible guess !! Paramount is nervous that they won’t recoup the millions they invested in making and promoting the movie !! As of now, most people, and some critics hated Aronofsky’s interpretation of Noah !! Boxoffice
    mojo predicts that the movie will have a hard time reaching 100 million domestically ! Now that’s news ! However white, yes white liberals have an affection for each other. And pandering early to white liberal academy members might help them get some Oscar nominations ! Which in effect, might help them recoup the large financial investment they made on this movie. Even if this horrible movie gets some Oscar nominations, I believe this movie will be remembered by most people as Hollywood’s utter contempt for those people who dearly hold to the true nature of Noah and God’s judgment as written in the book of Genesis ! As it stands now, Paramount and Hollywood have failed from a financial perspective, but more importantly from a credibility perspective !! Good Friday and Easter Sunday are this week ! Believe you me , there are other movies that deserve more attention than the awful Noah !( Heaven is Real, Gods not Dead and Son of God ). Go see one or all of them and get back to me ! It’s impossible for me to believe that any of these movies can be as bad as Noah !!

    1. Rob, You’re right about the movie “Noah” and I’ll wager it will be a bomb, a flop, a financial disaster. My wife and I and my wife’s friend Linda attended together. I walked out early on and got my money back and went to a different movie in the theater. When I picked up my wife and her friend Linda the first words out of Linda’s mouth were: “Stupid, stupid, stupid movie.” When the movie ended someone laughed and then the entire theater laughed. My wife wondered if she had booed if they’d have all booed instead of laughing. Either way the audience showed their disdain and displeasure at the movie.

  4. If it gets even a nomination for any of the actor categories, and especially best picture – i will slit my wrists and retire from this industry.

  5. Why is it that some people in Hollywood refuse to pay to see a movie? If they had any genuine interest in the film, wouldn’t they have already seen it? Maybe if the execs had to fork over $15 a pop, they’d have more respect for the audience and do a better job of entertaining us. When I started out, the only people that paid to see a movie were the unpaid interns. You wouldn’t catch an intern name-dropping or acting like a spoiled, entitled child at the box office. This system seems rather jaded, but perhaps it explains why the academy seems so out of touch.

  6. “Noah” is one of the few movies in years I’ve walked out on and asked for my money back. Aronofsky’s misinterpretation of the Biblical account of Noah and his family was silly, inaccurate, an environmental propaganda piece, even offensive. If that’s the kind of nonsense film that can win any award in Hollywood I’ll be done watching the Academy Awards.

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