There used to be a time when getting your Academy Award contending star or film on the cover of Entertainment Weekly’s annual first “Oscar” issue was a big deal. Just like landing your holiday movie on the cover of Vanity Fair meant something. Oh, how times of changed. This web veteran doesn’t mean to knock an already crumbling print industry, but you hardly hear anyone talking about who made the front page of Friday’s New York Times or Los Angeles Times Arts & Leisure and Calendar sections respectively these days. And a whole generation will soon work in movie marketing never understanding what a “double truck” print ad is (figure it out) after the two biggies used to be full of them. That being said, kudos to Fox Searchlight for locking the placement on EW for “Black Swan’s” Natalie Portman and “127 Hours'” James Franco this week. As a non-competing studio publicist noted to me this morning, “You can’t knock it as noise.” Indeed, especially with Portman in a seemingly tight race with Annette Bening for best actress and Franco attempting to pull off the unthinkable by hosting and upsetting frontrunner Colin Firth at the same time.
No doubt there was also competition for the cover. WB would have died to have DiCaprio and the “Inception” cast on there. Paramount and Relativity were no doubt pushing for Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale for “The Fighter” and you have to speculate the “Social Network” team (which is far more than just Sony Pictures) were working their hardest to get that flick on the cover again (although that over exposed flick – sorry it’s true and not a statement on the quality of the film – hardly sells magazines or results in click through anymore).
Print still is trying to have its place in Oscar campaigns, however. With over 6,000 members of the Academy and a majority of them over the age of 50, sales people can make the justifiable claim that advertising in the print versions of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, the LA Times’ Envelope (ah, a shadow of its former self) and even Deadline’s new print “special editions” reach member eyeballs. But that is revenue that will continue to dwindle for those outlets in an increasingly digital media landscape. It used to be that studios could justify the expense of creative for your consideration ads in NY and LA as reaching traditional moviegoers, who might buy tickets, as well. Next year? Either print is going to have to make a major cultural turnaround or those sales people better have some pretty impressive statistics ready to convince consultants and marketing heads of their relevance.
Better get those iPad editions ready fellas.
In other awards season news…
– Pete Hammond of Deadline has a great warning of yet another year where the upcoming WGA nods won’t be particularly indicative of the Oscar’s screenwriting selections. Because of strict WGA rules “The King’s Speech,” “Blue Valentine,” “Another Year,” “Biutiful,” “The Way Back,” “Winter’s Bone,” “The Ghost Writer” and, of course, animated contenders “Toy Story 3” and “How To Train Your Dragon” are ineligible. There are a lot of arguments on both sides for why sticking to the rules is necessary (or not), but just keep it mind when the nominations are announced next week.
– Dirty laundry from the HFPA is starting to pile up this year. Susan Waxman has some details on the legal wrangling between the Golden Globes org and Dick Clark Productions while NBC wonders who is crazier from the sidelines. New NBC owe Comcast thought dealing with the International Olympic Committee was going to be crazy, but they ain’t seen nothing when it comes to the Globes.
– And just for fun, Film Drunk has a very entertaining collection of quotes from the annual Armond White collection. The New York Press critic continues to confound with his own unique set of criteria and taste. It’s certainly an entertaining read in a slow holiday week and well worth your time.
Follow Gregory Ellwood and Awards Campaign on Twitter @HitFixGregory