Entertainment News

  • 2 March 2014, 11:21

Studios Spend Big On Oscars Campaigns

The battle to secure an Oscar at this year's Academy Awards has seen record-breaking spending by the studios on campaigns for their movies.

Hollywood has poured millions into a blitz of publicity aimed at winning votes from the 6,000 Academy members who hold the keys to Oscar glory.

The sums spent - and the rare controversy of a nomination being withdrawn over a breach of the campaigning rules - have prompted a debate about the rights and wrongs of studios buying attention.

"Alone Yet Not Alone", the title track from a low-budget Christian film, was a surprise nominee in the Best Original Song category, holding off works by Coldplay and Taylor Swift.

But its composer Bruce Broughton, a veteran member of the Academy's music branch, was judged to have broken the rules when he emailed fellow members to highlight his nomination.

The song was disqualified - even though Mr Broughton says what he did was no different to the multi-million pound lobbying conducted by the major studios.

He told Sky News: "I feel like somebody threw me under the bus.

"I realised it isn't an even playing field, that the Academy has some substantial work to do to make it so. If you're from a large studio, there are enormous marketing campaigns that go on and if you're in a small film, it is unlikely you're going to get that sort of backwind."

He says the public has no idea of the extent of campaigning and how decisive it can be.

From billboards to newspaper advertisements, junkets and screenings, voting members are bombarded with movie contenders in the weeks before they decide on nominees and winners.

And the reason is largely financial.

Movie consultant Mitch Levine said: "Campaigning is an essential part an effort to secure a nomination and hopefully a win. It means a lot to film-makers, to producers, to studios and distribution companies to have an Oscar nomination to have an Oscar win because it has a very direct and tangible effect at the box office."

Movie producer and studio executive Harvey Weinstein is credited with pioneering modern Oscar campaigning and he says it is all just marketing.

He told Sky News: "It is a competition. In this year of sexy films like American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street and Gravity it is hard to get people to see the smaller movies like 12 Years A Slave or Philomena, that is the fight we face against the bigger movies."

Anyone who decides to opt out of the campaigning risks ending up a loser and Hollywood insiders say British stars have often fallen into that camp.

Steven Gaydos, executive editor of movie business magazine Variety, said: "It has been very true of actors from the UK who have said they don't want to be part of this dog and pony show, they resent it, and a lot of them have not won in years when if they had been here pressing the flesh and doing this crazy stuff perhaps they'd have Oscars."

This year has even seen Robert Redford complaining about the system after he missed out on a nomination for his role in All Is Lost.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.

:: You can also watch the Oscars live on Sunday, March 2 on Sky Movies from 11.30pm.

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