10 best picture nominees could mean more 'for your consideration' ads
In a grim year for the media business, the Academy's decision to double the number of best picture nominees might turn into economic stimulus for the publications that cover showbiz.
"This could be a windfall for The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and other newspapers," said Joel Wayne, a former studio marketing executive who worked at Warner Bros. for 25 years, referring to the two main trade publications that cover the entertainment business.
The Los Angeles Times also has aggressively solicited "for your consideration" ads that studios run leading up to voting for the Oscars and Emmys.
On its face, today's announcement seems like great news for Variety and the Reporter, which have been hit with big drops in ad revenue this year because of recession-driven cutbacks and a broad consensus early in the 2008-09 awards season that "Slumdog Millionaire," the eventual winner, was a sure thing.
But some studios executives -- such as Jeff Blake, Sony Pictures marketing and distribution chairman -- say that more nominee slots and more shots at the prize won't convince them to spend more. Many in Hollywood have expressed concern that there isn't enough financial return on Oscar campaigns because few nominated films get a significant bump in ticket or DVD sales.
"It’s anyone’s guess how this will effect the marketing strategy of the studios, but a wider field at least opens the door for much more opportunity for a film to win the best picture award," said Brian Gott, publisher of Variety.
Lynne Segall, vice president of entertainment advertising for The Times, also wasn't ready to be optimistic.
"It has been such an unusual year with studio layoffs and how they look at budgets," she said. "An Academy Award is still a pedigree everybody wants, but it's hard to say if this really is going to make everybody start spending more."
-- Ben Fritz
In Wednesday's Times, find out more about the decision, its impact on the film business and the reaction of stars like Samuel L. Jackson and Jon Favreau; the financial reasons behind the move; the new calculus for potential best picture nominees; and read commentary from film critic Kenneth Turan and columnist Patrick Goldstein.
Photo: The Hollywood Reporter office in Los Angeles. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times