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If you thought that Sony’s Sausage Party, the no-holds-barred spoof of animated movies that took Hollywood by storm in August, would rest on its critical and commercial laurels this awards season, then you might be, well, a weenie.
Earlier this year, Sausage Party, a comedy about a store full of grocery products confronting their own mortality, grossed $135 million worldwide on a $19 million budget, making it the most commercially successful R-rated animated film ever while earning an 83 percent critics’ approval rating at RottenTomatoes.com. And so the studio has decided to give it a full-out awards campaign, including but not limited to a push for a best animated feature Oscar nomination (which only one R-rated film, 2015’s Anomalisa, ever has received).
The Academy’s short films and feature animation branch, which determines the animated feature nominees, is generally described as a conservative bunch that gravitates toward old-fashioned animation and moralistic stories — but people close to the film feel that’s selling them short.
“Academy members are way smarter and more forward-thinking than people realize,” Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They want to recognize bold, original, risky breakthroughs, and that’s what Sausage Party is, however subversive. Plus, it’s just plain cool.”
Adds Seth Rogen, who not only voiced Sausage Party‘s main character but also co-wrote and co-produced the film with his creative partner Evan Goldberg: “We’ve never been this passionate about a film and we’re thrilled to enter uncharted territory. It’s rare you really get to break new ground, and we hope that people view it as a good thing for the medium.” (Megan Ellison is another producer on the film.)
Sony’s push for the film will launch with a Nov. 1 screening and cocktail party at Westwood’s iPic Theater, with Rogen and one of the film’s two directors, Conrad Vernon (the other is Greg Tiernan), in attendance. The guest list will include members of the Academy’s short films and feature animation branch, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (who determine Golden Globe nominees and winners), representatives of other guilds and press who cover the awards season.
In addition, the studio has slated numerous other targeted screenings and events, including a similar gathering in New York around the Thanksgiving break. It has lined up print and digital advertising in the trades and other publications that reach awards voters who get to cast an animation-related ballot. And Rogen will be hitting the campaign trail as well.
Sony also is sending out mailers, which will provide voters and tastemakers with screeners of the film and CDs featuring its original song “The Great Beyond” (music by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken, a Disney legend, and lyrics by Rogen, Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir and Glenn Slater), which it also hopes will be recognized. (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, the 1999 film that was the highest-grossing R-rated animated release prior to Sausage Party, landed a best original song Oscar nom for “Blame Canada.”)
Rogen, asked about the film’s awards push, cracks, “We all want to meet Leonardo DiCaprio.”
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