The “Sold Out” sign is on the door as our eagerly awaited The Contenders Presented By Deadline event is closing its RSVP line, with response the strongest in the five years since the popular all-day awards-season preview began.
The 2015 lineup will have 19 studios presenting (last year was 12!) with a whoppin’ 44 films in all taking place Saturday, November 7, again at the DGA Theatre. In fact, we’re even starting a half-hour early (8:30 AM! preceded by breakfast) just to incorporate the huge demand from the studios to participate. And if this year is a repeat of former years, people line up early to enjoy the camaraderie, the great food and settle in for a long but fun day of presentations. Starting with The Weinstein Company and ending with a one-on-one with Michael Moore talking about his new documentary Where To Invade Next, this year undoubtedly will provide voters with a unique look at this year’s race and a sneak peek at some footage from films that have opened, are just opening, or are still to come over the holidays (such as Joy, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, Concussion and The Big Short).
Participants also include Focus Features, Universal, Fox Searchlight, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, DreamWorks Studios, Disney/Pixar, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions, Netflix and The Contenders first-timers Bleecker Street, A24, Broad Green Pictures and Open Road Films. It’s one-stop shopping for awards voters who get a one-of-a-kind overview of the season you simply can’t find anywhere else.
We have 14 writers, 21 directors, 18 producers as well as cinematographers, visual effects producers, composers, editors, production designers and several stars. You might recall last year the lineup included many who went on to win Oscars including actors Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons. Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr., Dominic Patten and I again will be moderating the panels, which allow film studios to show off their top contenders with clips, exclusive behind-the-scenes material and conversation to AMPAS and key guild members.
Guild members have told me they particularly enjoy The Contenders because this event exposes them to experts from other guilds. One SAG member told me: “Seeing people behind the camera gives me a better understanding and appreciation of the film. It’s like a 360-degree look at the process.”
In addition to the monumental task of scheduling the day and overseeing the entire show, event producer Madelyn Hammond has topped herself this year and garnered 17 incredible raffle prizes to offer audience members. We’ll be raffling off brand-new Dell computers, UGG shoes, trips to the Four Seasons Maui, a three-day stay at the Golden Door Spa, theater tickets to If/Then, Peter Pan and The Bridges Of Madison County, a wine dinner for 20 people at Flemings in Beverly Hills, a spa treatment from the Montage Hotel, dinner and an overnight at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, and two very unique prizes.
One of our new sponsors, Allied Integrated Marketing, will be offering a marketing evaluation of a script/film and for the second year in a row, and returning sponsor Final Draft will be offering someone in the audience the chance to discuss their project with a top writer. Last year, the always gracious and successful writers, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, not only spent time talking to winner Frank Merwald but provided him with two pages of notes for his biopic script.
Frank told us he was approached during lunch by another audience member who offered to buy his raffle prize, but he immediately said, “No way — I have a script.”
Click here for a complete list of films and presenters for this year’s Deadline Presents The Contenders.