Oscars: First Screener of Award Season Arrives in Voters' Mailboxes

Bleecker Street's 'I'll See You in My Dreams,' a well-received spring release that particularly appeals to older people (who comprise a sizable portion of the Academy's membership), began reaching Academy members on Wednesday.
Courtesy of Sundance International Film Festival
'I'll See You in My Dreams'

I'll See You in My Dreams, a drama about late-in-life love and loss that stars Blythe Danner and Sam Elliott, became the first Oscar hopeful to arrive on DVD in the mailboxes of Academy members.

Members of every branch of the Academy — totaling roughly 7,000 individuals — began receiving Brett Haley's low-budget indie on Wednesday. The drama, which was acquired at the Sundance Film Festival by Bleecker Street, the New York-based company founded in August 2014 by former Focus co-CEO Andrew Karpen, received strong reviews and performed solidly at the box-office following its May 15 release, grossing $7.3 million.

According to a 2014 Los Angeles Times study, the median age of the Academy's membership is 62 and people younger than 50 account for just 14% of its membership — which is why a film about a wealthy older person is a rare and relatable treat for many of them. (The film's official Academy screening several months ago did not draw a massive crowd but was warmly received by those in attendance.)

Bleecker Street — which also handled Danny Collins earlier this year and soon will release Pawn Sacrifice, Beasts of No Nation (with Netflix) and Trumbo — clearly hoped to beat the rush of higher-profile screeners and screenings that is about to hit Academy members. (The Oscar season unofficially begins with the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day weekend.)

This method has borne fruit for some early-bird indies, including Sony Classics' Frozen River (2008) and Animal Kingdom (2010) and Summit's A Better Life (2011), all of which scored acting noms. (Frozen River also landed a best original screenplay nom.) But in each of the last three years, it wasn't enough to make a difference — The Weinstein Co.'s The Intouchables (2012), Lionsgate's Mud (2013) and Radius' Snowpiercer (2014) failed to any noms at all.

Other awards hopefuls from the first half of the year that are likely to arrive on screener in the coming days and weeks include The Weinstein Co.'s Woman in Gold and Southpaw, A24's Ex Machina, Fox Searchlight's Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Roadside Attractions' Love & Mercy, Fox Searchlight's Far from the Madding Crowd, Disney-Pixar's Inside Out and Warner Bros. Mad Max: Fury Road.