Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Curse Of The Qualifying Release


Awards season is extremely political. The films that are often put on people's pundits are those that the studios send out screeners for so that guild and Academy voters can take note of them and put them on their ballots. If there is a film deserving of consideration that isn't campaigned by the studio, it'll get ignored all because the studio didn't send out screeners for it. It's absolutely ridiculous but it is a part of the political awards game.

Another part of the ridiculousness of the politicism is when studios release a film in select theaters within the last few days of December just so that it can qualify for awards consideration. Whenever the studio does that, they are usually setting their film, and themselves, up for failure.

Because there are so many films released at the end of December, plenty get lost in the shuffle. In the specialty market, we have films like Hidden Figures, Silence, A Monster Calls, Paterson, Patriots Day, Live By Night, Toni Erdmann, 20th Century Women trying to create buzz within the last few days of December and some of these aren't getting any because they simply came too late to the party. Strangely, as a big Scorsese fan, I keep forgetting that Silence is getting the limited release treatment. But it's because Paramount put it out too late. So I think they should've just released it at the beginning of 2017. Also, A Monster Calls was originally set to come out in October but Focus ended up moving it to the end of December which turned out to be a mistake because not only is it getting lost in the shuffle but it already premiered at the Toronto Film Festival where it had early positive buzz. So it didn't need to be moved to December.

If they're trying to create some awards buzz for a film that has a late release along with little or no early festival buzz, I say don't bother. While early release films have a hard time sustaining awards buzz, that is one thing that screeners can be used for. Plus, the Oscars aren't the Olympics. They don't happen every four years.

It costs millions of dollars to make a movie. Whether it's a studio or an indie film, it costs a plenty to make one picture. Rather than risk a qualifying release which could put a film at risk for losing millions if it gets lost in the shuffle, just give a film an early year wide release or in the case of a studio behind an independent film, give it a slow rollout at the beginning of the year.

So those are my quick thoughts on why I think the whole awards qualifying release strategy is absolutely ridiculous. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!!!!!