As first revealed on Deadline, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is making good on its promise to liven up the official Academy weekend screenings by adding in-person filmmaker participation for the first time. On the June Los Angeles screening schedule sent out to members yesterday (and obtained by Deadline), the Acad announces: “MAJOR NEWS! Starting in June Los Angeles Membership Screening times in the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre will be standardized to 2:30pm and 7:30pm on both Saturdays and Sundays. This will allow studios and producers to provide artists, if available, from each film for 20-30 minute post-screen discussions. Be sure to check back regularly as additional names will be added.”
This is a major switch from the previous policy, which until the past awards season didn’t even allow Oscar voters to attend non-Academy sponsored screenings of contending movies where a Q&A would be taking place. The feeling was they didn’t want voters to be influenced by anything other than the actual movie. That policy was changed in 2011, and members were free to participate in and attend Q&As, and even food receptions are OK before nominations are announced. After that, Q&As are permissible. But now, beginning this weekend, the Academy is taking it even further and adding post-screening discussions in their own sacred house of film — a major change of heart and a boon for Oscar consultants who will probably see this a great opportunity to target the Academy voter demo directly.
Once word spreads about the new policy, you can expect anyone with an Oscar-bait film will definitely be trying to deliver talent to these official membership weekend screenings. From the Academy’s point of view it should also help increase attendance for the films which, other than the most popular want-to-see titles, has tended to lag in recent years at the 1012-seat theatre. Often there might be only 200-300 attendees, if that many. Academy leaders want to encourage members to see the films on the big screen, especially at their state-of-the-art Goldwyn in Beverly Hills.
Among those set to inaugurate the new policy this month are writer-director Debbie Goodstein-Rosenfeld at Saturday’s 2:30 PM film Mighty Fine, and makeup artist Rick Baker and visual effects supervisors Ken Ralston and Jay Redd for Saturday’s 7:30 PM film Men In Black 3. On Sunday night, director Rupert Sanders, costume designer Colleen Atwood, visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and production designer Dominic Watkins will turn up to chat with members after Snow White And The Huntsman.
Others set for later in the month include writer Damon Lindelof (Prometheus, June 10), a large group including co-director Mark Andrews for a special 10:30 AM screening of Disney/Pixar’s Brave (June 16), director Adam Shankman with Rock Of Ages (June 16), co-star Mark Duplass with Your Sister’s Sister (June 17), producer Stephen Tenenbaum with To Rome With Love (June 23), actor Dwight Henry and his 8-year-old co-star Quvenzhane Walls for Beasts Of The Southern Wild (July 1), and director-writer Alex Kurtzman appearing with People Like Us (July 1).
Awards Columnist Pete Hammond - tip him here.