Academy Restricts Email for Upcoming Oscar Campaigns
In an effort to control the Oscar pitches hitting the in-boxes of its members, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has introduced a new regulation for the coming awards seasons: Studios may send only one email and one piece of physical mail per week to Academy voters.
"Our members are reacting to the daily flood of emails that they get, and we're trying to hold that in check," said Academy COO Ric Robertson.
In a standing caveat affecting the emails sent to Academy members, studios are prohibited from sending links to promotional audio or video, but they now may link to the videos of the Academy's own "Conversations" series on Oscars.org.
Within the Academy, the revisions to campaign regulations for the 85th Academy Awards, which will be held Feb. 24, are viewed as refinements of existing rules rather than a dramatic overhaul. "The whole reason we have these regulations is not just to level the playing field, but to try to refocus the conversation so it's not about the campaigning but about the movies themselves," Robertson said.
The new rules also place new restrictions on the number of filmmaker Q&As that Academy members may be invited to after nominations are announced on Jan. 15. Going forward, members may be invited to up to four such screenings, while a fifth event may be held in the U.K. Under the past season's rules, after the nominations came out, each individual involved in a film could participate in two Q&As, and there was no limit on the number of Q&As per film. In the case of a film with a large cast, that opened the door to multiple Q&A screenings. The new rule now puts a cap of four domestic screenings on each film. "There was a sense last year," Robertson explained, "that our members were being invited to too many such screenings."
The regulation further stipulates that all the participants in the post-nom filmmaker Q&As must be nominees or have been eligible for nominations. And no screening may include a reception or food or drink.
The Academy has toughened its ban on film companies using third parties to distribute materials that the companies themselves would be prohibited from sending directly. The regulation now says that companies may not have a publication use its subscriber list to send stand-alone materials to members, except in connection with the distribution of the publication itself. The amendment does not affect a company's ability to place their usual promotional materials in trade publications.
Companies may also send for-your-consideration films to Academy members both by DVD and as digital downloads. Previously, studios had to choose between sending either DVDs or digital dowloads, although in light of the Academy's gradual move toward a more electronic voting system, that either-or rule was quietly dropped during the past awards season.