2:59pm PT by Scott Feinberg
Oscars: "Scary" Number of Campaign Events Set for Friday the 13th
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
In a year without a clear frontrunner, the distributors of an unusually big number of films feel that awards recognition is within their reach — and they aren't leaving anything on the table when it comes to promotional opportunities.
Already this season, the pre-Thanksgiving flurry of Q&As, lunches, dinners and cocktail parties has hit a fever pitch. Among the hotter invites: a screening of the doc short The Tuskegee Airmen: Sacrifice and Triumph at the home of Lionel Richie on Oct. 5 (it still was left off the Academy's shortlist on Oct. 26); a party for Brett Morgen's doc feature Cobain: Montage of Heck at Robert Evans' home Nov. 5; and a hangout at Adam Levine's house for The End of the Tour's Jason Segel on Nov. 8. The list goes on.
But campaigning is reaching a crescendo around the Academy's annual Governors Awards ceremony Nov. 14. The event ostensibly is about the industry icons it honors, but it also has become a key campaign stop for Oscar hopefuls. Distributors buy tables and fill them with contenders, knowing that few other events will generate as much media coverage — or provide as many opportunities to schmooze voters. "It's become not just one event but a whole weekend of activity," notes Cynthia Swartz of Strategy PR, who is representing The Revenant, Steve Jobs and Beasts of No Nation, among other films.
She's not kidding. Friday, Nov. 13, is the most jam- packed night of awards-related events in memory. Fox Searchlight is hosting a "holiday party" at The District, Universal is doing its "year-end celebration" at Ysabel and A24 is throwing a party at Sunset Tower. Meanwhile, Sunday, Nov. 15 is pretty packed too, with Open Road Films and and Broad Green Pictures throwing their own holiday parties at Spaghettini and AOC, respectively.
All of these gatherings advertise face-time with casts and filmmakers, some of whom will be jetting in to town for the weekend from other parts of the country (Room's Brie Larson and Straight Outta Compton's Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell are coming from the Hawaii set of Kong: Skull Island) and indeed all around the world (Brooklyn's Saoirse Ronan and John Crowley from Ireland, Amy's Asif Kapadia from England).
Notes Michael Lawson, a member of the Academy's public relations branch who is consulting for Broad Green (99 Homes and I Smile Back), "With talent coming into town for Saturday, it just makes sense, strategically, to set other events for them around that evening."