With a shortened nominating season (Oscar balloting starts December 17, 10 days earlier than usual), the Thanksgiving holiday period as well as the Christmas/New Year’s break won’t much of a break at all for many campaigns, which simply can’t take the time off or slow the momentum they are trying to build. After all there are just 3 1/2 weeks to go before those ballots land in Academy voters’ hands (or in the case of the new electronic voting this year, in their computers). So it is all stops out from here on in. And that means studios like Universal and Sony in particular will be using the long Thanksgiving weekend for an assault on guild and Academy members for their big December releases Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty, respectively.
On Saturday, Universal’s Les Miz plan swings into action with an unprecedented six screenings — all featuring either in-person introductions or post-Q&A sessions with director Tom Hooper and “cast members”. The screening program will not let up until the film’s Christmas Day opening, which comes in the middle of the voting period. Universal is determined to get this film seen on the big screen by as many voters as possible despite the time crunch. The director only just locked Sunday night at 10 PM, according to an internal memo that carried instructions for delivery of the DCP materials for the digital projection. It’s a very precise, carefully orchestrated operation, and as the memo says “failure is not an option”. That’s certainly true in an awards race as tight as this one and particularly for a film as anticipated as this one.
“The reality is we’re going to screen this movie like nobody’s business the minute it’s ready and would have regardless….We’ll start screening the movie the day after Thanksgiving and are going to screen it, pretty much non-stop from there, until time of release. So between the screening program, its commercial availability beginning Christmas Day and for those who get the screeners, we think there’s abundant opportunity”, Universal chairman Adam Fogelson told an audience of Academy and Guild members attending the Moguls panel at Deadline’s recent all-day The Contenders event. He added that for smaller films the timing could be more of a challenge, but “not for any of the films here which are on everybody’s list”. (more…)