February 24, 2013

Campaign spending soars in Oscar races

By JOHN HORN and GLENN WHIPP, McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

"I remember thinking, in terms of gifts, this is a bit much," says Access Hollywood film critic Scott Mantz, a BFCA member. "In the 22 years I've been covering awards seasons, I've never seen anything quite like it. When you open up the mail and find a 'Les Miz' iPod, you know we're not in a recession anymore."

Universal said that its "Les Miserables" campaign, which is all but certain to bring a supporting actress Oscar to costar Anne Hathaway, cost less than $10 million.

Harvey Weinstein, whose films "The Artist" and "The King's Speech" won the last two Best Picture trophies, said the runaway expenditures don't guarantee Oscar gold -- and as the person who mastered the modern, take-no-prisoners awards campaign, he should know.

"I don't believe spending the money necessarily works, as we've proven in the past," said Weinstein, who thinks "Silver Linings Playbook" has a chance to score an upset Best Picture win. "And any money you spend has to make people go see the movie."

The open-wallet campaigning has left several Best Picture nominees with less resources scrambling to stay in the conversation.

"We'll see on (Sunday) how influential those big spends are," said Michael Barker, whose Sony Pictures Classics is releasing "Amour," which is shortlisted for both the Best Picture and Foreign Language races. "I'm sitting here with five nominations for 'Amour,' and I think that it received all those nominations is proof that academy members aren't always paying attention to the big campaigns."


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