Deadline Hollywood’s 2nd annual event THE CONTENDERS about the movie awards season was held November 10th at LA’s Landmark Theatre for invited Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Guild voters. Watch the video of its marquee event: The ‘Deadline Moguls Panel’ composed of Warner Bros’ Jeff Robinov, 20th Century Fox’s Jim Gianopulos, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Amy Pascal, Paramount’s Rob Moore, Universal’s Adam Fogelson, Summit/Lionsgate’s Rob Friedman, and DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider who all discussed the challenges of this movie awards season. It was an insightful and fascinating discussion moderated by Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and Film/NY Editor Mike Fleming. A transcript follows the video below:
Transcript: ‘Deadline Moguls Panel’ at The Contenders November 10th:
DEADLINE’S PETE HAMMOND: We have an incredible panel once again this year: the heads of the studios, the distributors, that are very involved in this year’s Oscar race and turning out the movies that you see. So let me introduce them here. To my right is Chairman and CEO of Twentieth Century Fox Jim Gianopulos. To his right, the Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures Rob Moore. The President of the Warner Bros Picture Group [and one of the triumvirate making up the Warner Bros Office Of The President] Jeff Robinov. Having a very good weekend with the new James Bond, the Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Amy Pascal. The Chairman of Universal Pictures, Adam Fogelson. The Co-Chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Pictures Group, Rob Friedman. And partner & Co-Chairman & CEO of DreamWorks Studios, Stacey Snider. And my colleague Mike Fleming. I do want to say that Harvey Weinstein, who was listed, could not be here due to personal family matters at the last minute. [Because] he’s not here, I’ll feel free to start with this question: how are you moguls going to make sure that Harvey doesn’t make it three-in-a-row this year? OK, actually before we start, Harvey did write a note, of course, so let me read this:
“I unfortunately couldn’t make it today to The Contenders event as I have a family emergency back in New York. Many people have asked ‘What is the secret to an awards campaign?’ and the answer is always the same: Seeing the movies themselves. It is those behind, in front, and around the camera who are the most important part of this process and it is my job to make sure that as many voters as possible see these films in a theater and, of course, if they can send in three or four ballots for my movies that doesn’t hurt. Congratulations to all of today’s contenders and my fellow panelists including Amy, Stacey, Jim, Adam, Jeff and the Robs. And once again I apologize for not being able to make it. There’s nothing I’d rather be discussing, but the only contenders I won’t take on when they put up a fight are my four daughters.”
So, it’s an interesting question – the indies have won the Best Picture Oscar in the last few years, not just The Weinstein Co, but Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker. (Rob Friedman’s right there). Is that a fair thing? The Academy changed the rules, the playing field, to make 10 movies. And I think it was inspired by the fact that The Dark Knight didn’t get a nomination, and many people felt it should. You know, Amy, let me ask you [since] you’re new to the panel this year: do you think that’s fair?
AMY PASCAL: I have to go first?
HAMMOND: You’ve got a big James Bond movie out now. It’s gotten superlative reviews, the kind of reviews that any Oscar-movie might get. Will The Academy take it seriously? Do they take big blockbusters seriously when it comes time for Oscars?
AMY PASCAL: Well, I think The Academy should take big blockbusters seriously. I think The Academy should take any movie seriously. That is the best version of itself. I think a movie like Argo that is the best version of itself … Flight … (those are the only two movies I’ve seen so far), they are the best version of itself. And those are genre films just like the James Bond movie. Just like Dark Knight. I think we all got in this business because of big American movies that we fell in love with, not because of small indie films. And I don’t think we should relegate the power that we have as filmmakers and Academy members to the French, or the English, or the indies. This is what we do. We should own it.
DEADLINE’S MIKE FLEMING: You mention Argo and you mention Flight. These were two studio films that were made at a price that are working at the box office and creating Oscar buzz. Do you guys consider these to be anomalies? Or maybe is this telling you something about making challenging adult films and maybe this should be more of a studio priority?
ROB MOORE: Well, I think the big change that’s seen is the flexibility between agents, studio, and talent. It used to be only indies got that price break if you’re doing material that’s really challenging. Now everybody understands. It doesn’t matter if you’re Warner Bros or Paramount or Sony. That if the material is complicated risky material, then everyone has to pitch in unfortunately. With us on Flight, Bob Zemeckis and Denzel were so inspired by the script they were willing to do it for a different price and hope that the execution of that script would be fantastic. But that is a dynamic that’s been changing. Where everybody, if they have a great piece of material, make a different deal so that the economics make sense.
STACEY SNIDER: I would add to that: while I’m thrilled about the deals, and I hope that they don’t change, what’s encouraging is that there’s box office to follow. There really is an adult audience out there – an audience in general, one that’s interested in serious provocative movies.
FLEMING: Rob [Moore], what you just mentioned. I thought The Fighter was a watershed film because it was put together as a studio film. Then it was kicked to the curb because it was too expensive. And it came back as a movie that was half or a third of the price. And you still distributed the film. Is that going to happen more and more for the studios?
ROB MOORE: Well, I think the opposite is happening now. Which is people are willing to make that accommodation where it’s once a studio film. The budget, as you said, was two, two and a half times, what it ended up being made for. Once it was independently financed, everyone was willing to change the model. Now I think people also accept that studios have the ability to really engage with that material and act like independents and not be overly bureaucratic and not dictate to filmmakers. But if Bob Zemeckis comes in and will make a movie at a price point, then you eventually give him the creative freedom to make the movie that he wants to make. And that’s a big change that’s happened over the last couple of years.
HAMMOND: Jim, you have a movie that’s coming out this month, The Life Of Pi, which is not a sure thing obviously with what’s thought of as box office blockbusters or safe bets. But it’s an extraordinary movie that has a chance to change the way we look at the movie business. It’s so sophisticated.
JIM GIANOPULOS: Well, some movies will themselves to be. This is a movie that’s gestated for 10 years. Several filmmakers tried it, but then Ang Lee came aboard. Then there comes a point where you say ‘OK, there’s no way to make this movie. There’s no way to do a CG tiger that dominates most of the film, that doesn’t cost you enormous amounts of money. And do you really want to walk away from that opportunity? So some movies just will themselves to be, and you’re part of the process that sometimes enables it. We say, ‘Let’s just go with it, and let’s see what happens.’ Unfortunately, a movie that’s that execution dependent, inarguably, takes balls to execute. But we’re proud to be part of it. But we couldn’t not make it.
HAMMOND: Jeff, what about you? Your slate is a mix of things. Argo wasn’t an easy thing on paper. I don’t think you looked at this and said, ‘This movie is going to make $100 million.’ Or maybe you did. You have all these different kinds of movies: you have The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises, and you have Argo. What do you look for when you’re putting out a slate? Do you know it’s going to be an Oscar movie or the best quality movie no matter how it comes?
JEFF ROBINOV: We do it like everybody else here: we respond to the script, the complete package. Getting back to your original question, in terms of where The Academy is at and how they’re looking at some of these movies, what I think what’s missing is great storytelling. It’s obviously great storytelling. But there’s a change in the way that movies are being made, and technology is a big part of it. To overlook a movie because of the technological aspect really doesn’t give them credit. You look at a movie like Inception with its layered storytelling, the performances, and having to also add in technical challenges. Or what happened with you guys [Fox] on Avatar isn’t really fair. It’s a new age of filmmaking, and new age of how movies are being made. And The Academy needs to broaden its view of films that they’re analyzing and the complications involved in the execution of that.
AMY PASCAL: Can I just say - I would take what happened to him [Jim Gianopulos] on Avatar.
HAMMOND: Would you rather have a movie that won Best Picture and made $14M-$15M at the box office? Or would you rather have an Avatar that’s the biggest movie of all-time? What do you want on your resume?
JIM GIANOPULOS: You can’t have both? We’re happy with Avatar, surprised at the outcome of the movie. But what you want on your resume is enabling great filmmakers and great films. So, whether they win or by accident of fate or the nature in that year, there’ve been many years where great films or great filmmakers and talent didn’t get it that year because it was someone else‘s turn. Or it just worked out that way. But that doesn’t diminish the quality of the work regardless what it did at the box office. In fact, all this process - we’ll separate process and purpose – the process is arduous, complicated. It’s expensive, it’s long, it’s a pain in the ass. But the purpose is to celebrate great film, film art, and great filmmaking and to introduce people to those films who might not have otherwise gone to them. Beasts Of The Southern Wild is [a] small, little film which could easily get lost. But people started talking about it. Whatever happens at the awards, more people become aware of them or any of the great films represented up here. People do notice it, regardless of whether it wins.
FLEMING: I remember seeing The Dark Knight Rises on IMAX before it opened and saying to my son, ‘I’ve been doing this forever [and] it’s so nice to see when a fully realized movie like this just knocks your socks off’. And, obviously, the tragedy happened in Aurora and [npw] you don’t hear that much [Oscar] buzz about this movie. When people, I would think, would be looking at it like the last Lord Of The Rings. What do you intend to do to make sure that movie gets its due?
JEFF ROBINOV: We really believe in the movie, and obviously Chris [Nolan] as a filmmaker, and have a more aggressive plan to reintroduce the movie and go after it. It was incredibly well-reviewed. Obviously it’s a movie that has a combination of great reviews and big box office. And, again, I think it’s one of those things that falls victim to its genre and the technological aspects of the movie. So our job is to really get out there – talk about the storytelling, the execution, the design, all the complications that made such a movie.
HAMMOND: Let me ask about the major studios this year. I get the feeling that, this year even more than in past years, that you’re very energized about the Oscar race. You think that this is going to be a good year? Each one of you has a main horse and maybe some others. Jim, you have Life Of Pi for sure, and all the Fox Searchlight films as well. Rob [Moore], you mentioned Flight which I think is definitely up The Academy’s alley. I think we can see some stuff there. Jeff, you have a lot – obviously, Argo. Amy, you have Zero Dark Thirty and other films. And you Adam have Les Mis which everyone is afraid to see because it might be really really good. And Rob [Friedman], you have an amazing film The Impossible, Juan Antonio Bayona’s film. Stacey, you have Lincoln. I joked about in the beginning, about Harvey going for a three-peat, but are you guys going to put a big campaign behind all of these? And more than what you did in the past?
JEFF ROBINOV: First, we plan to kidnap Harvey… This is an exciting time for all of us. It’s great to have movies that are being considered. And it’s great that they’re coming out of the studio system.
ROB MOORE: I think the big change with studios, and certainly the folks I’ve been in business while at Paramount, the cultures have changed at the studios because of the changing economics. Filmmakers are getting more comfortable. You can have that same level of independence and support from a major studio. But with the support mechanism that the studio has to offer, that didn’t feel like this five years ago, in terms of the freedom people could give you. With these changing dynamics, folks are bringing in, and willing to do, more interesting material. I think that’s why you see an interesting array of movies from the majors this year is how things have changed.
HAMMOND: Amy, you are shaking your head.
AMY PASCAL: I’ll be honest with you. Wow, I was just going to say that it’s incredibly exciting for all of us, and exciting for all of you as Academy members, it is our responsibility to promote films that are historically and culturally relevant and to make sure what we’re telling people what will stand the test of time. And I think what’s great about all the movies, and I haven’t seen all of them but all of them sound pretty good, is that they’re all movies about something. Movies that are trying to say something. And movies trying to make us understand the world we live in. And I think what’s great about The Academy, and great about the opportunity that we have here, is that everyone has made these incredibly commercial movies that are the kind of movies that we got in the business to make. And I think that’s pretty unusual.
ROB FRIEDMAN: We also have to look through a lot of films that could work on an annual basis. And many of them come to the surface as high quality entertainment. So it gives us the benefit of having multiple films so we can push for this process at the end of the year. Perks Of Being A Wallflower is another great film that we have. We’re excited about the lineup that we have.
STACEY SNIDER: I think what we all want also is to have all our films just to be seen as much as possible. If we can ensure that our films can get seen on the big screen as much as possible, and enjoy the way they were intended to be enjoyed. Not that we won’t be sending out the screeners. We amongst ourselves know to campaign [that] it really comes down to making sure people see the movies the way they were intended to be seen.
ADAM FOGELSON: I also think it’s great that the intersection of quality and commerce has never been greater than it is now. Not to say that there aren’t movies that critics don’t enjoy, or that full audiences will see. But, by and large, movies that are really popping are successfully satisfying both more now than ever. Someone who knows about virtually every movie we all make [is] the industry - talking about what scripts we’re looking at, what movies we’re greenlighting, whom we’re thinking of casting [or] people tell you whom we’re thinking of casting. The process is so transparent. And people can communicate with each other so quickly about the product they’re seeing. Even a commercial product in a movie like Bridesmaids last year (people haven’t seen This Is 40 yet) – any movie in any genre needs to be discussed [so] it needs to be good. And it needs to be satisfying. And to be commercially successful. Then having it talked about in the awards conversation is great. But I think it’s in all our interests, and the interests of the business, to be making great film.
HAMMOND: Then why are we waiting until the last three months to see these films?
ADAM FOGELSON: That’s a fallacy. That’s a largely self-created fallacy. We all have films [seen]. Hurt Locker was June, Erin Brockovich was March, Seabiscuit was summer, The Help was summer, Gladiator was May.
HAMMOND: So there’s your answer: we’re seeing them all year-round. Well, maybe not this year.
JEFF ROBINOV: It’s a well-guarded secret that our jobs are dependent on whether or not we actually make money for the studio. For us, it’s about balancing commerce and art. So as you look at these bigger films – someone just mentioned Gladiator in May or you go back to Ben Hur – those are commercial, successful, big studio films. We make both. We make Argo-size films, we make Flight-size films, and we make big, big movies. And there’s no reason that the big movies…
AMY PASCAL: … Can’t be good.
JEFF ROBINOV: … Yeah, can’t be quality. You always try to make a quality film. Obviously, as my dentist will tell you, we don’t always do it. But the goal is to make great movies.
JIM GIANOPULOS: We think of awards celebrating, recognizing, and acknowledging great filmmakers. It also does provide those of us who have to make these decisions, when there are those tough decisions, [with] the hope of an award [that] is much more than anyone’s ego. But it is a hope that, while recognizing a film during awards season and post-awards season, it will take it commercially beyond what it might otherwise do. And that might give you that extra bit of courage to say, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ And I think, for that purpose, it serves all of us. It serves our industry, especially the audience, to see movies get made that are, to some degree, a business potential.
HAMMOND: I should add that, on this panel, we have two members of The Academy’s Board Of Governors: that’s Jim [Gianopulos] and also Rob Friedman there. And they’ve made some significant changes this year to try to get people to see these [films] based on their awards success. One, is that there’s a longer period of time after the nominations come out on January 10th all the way to February 24 - six weeks instead of four - which enables the audience out there as well as Academy members to catch up with these movies and to have a really interesting Academy Awards.
JIM GIANOPULOS: That was the purpose of it. Part of the fact is that, with electronic voting, you gain seven days of snail mail that was an unnecessary part of the process. So, you know, people can get their nominations in early. We’ve heard the excuses – ‘I’m on vacation’, ‘I’m in Hawaii’. You know, when you look at the work we do, the job we have, and the job of most people on the planet, when it’s our job to see great movies, to take the time to at least nominate those that we think are worthy, that’s not such a bad job. It’s not that difficult. I think we owe it to ourselves, to the filmmakers and whatever organization we’re voting for, to make that time. And then, to really be able to evaluate, to consider, to have that period – like others have said up here – to see it on the big screen. You can’t see Life Of Pi on an iPhone! You could, theoretically, but it’s stupid.
STACEY SNIDER: The longer period of time is also great for the audience, so that it doesn’t feel like a party just for the industry. It’s great to enable The Academy member more time to see the film and to consider their votes. But it’s great to know that people around the country and around the world [have] more time to see the films that might be in limited release and rolling out more slowly. So they can participate in the fun and suspense of the evening’s telecast.
ROB FRIEDMAN: The Academy isn’t an anomaly. They don’t vote for specific movies in a group. They’re made up of individuals who are creators and vote for their categories. So whatever we can do to allow them to have the time to view the films in their natural state whenever possible, and to think about the process and to execute the process, is what we try to do.
HAMMOND: Adam, I’m just wondering how Les Miserables moved from December 14 to December 25? That same day that the Academy announced that they were having a shorter period for the nominations. Voting starts December 17 and goes to January 3rd, so this opens nationally right in the middle of all this. Did that give you pause moving to that day? Or do you think it’s affected at all?
ADAM FOGELSON: We don’t seem to be having trouble getting people to pay attention to it. And the reality is we’re going to screen this movie like nobody’s business the minute it’s ready and would have regardless. Its delivery date was not impacted. That was a commercial decision based on when we thought was a perfect moment to release the film. We’ll start screening the movie the day after Thanksgiving, and are going to screen it pretty much nonstop from there until time of release. So, between the screening program, its commercial availability beginning Christmas Day, and for those who get the screeners, we think there’s abundant opportunity. I think for some of the smaller films, I think, the challenge will be for those films that may have been 10th, 12th, 20th, timing on the smaller films are more complicated. But for any of the films here which are on everybody’s list, I don’t think it’s going to create a challenge.
HAMMOND: It doesn’t matter to put the screeners out before the film has actually been released? Do you have a policy to send screeners out until that time?
ROB FRIEDMAN: We sent our screeners out. In fact, most of you received them yesterday. We think it’s important, again, because of the crunch of time, to have it there available. Obviously, we’re screening the movies multiple times in theaters across the country, around the world, to try and get people into theaters. No, we have screeners for movies that won’t be out until December.
FLEMING: I’ve got a two-parter for Jim G who I promised some chin music here. Jim, you make this movie Life Of Pi and, really, when you see it in 3D, it’s like Avatar in a lifeboat. You send out these screeners. Basically you know that there are some voters who are evaluating it on an iPhone. 1) How much does that bother you? And 2) Should Oscar voters actually be required to see these on the big screen if they’re actually going to cast a vote?
JIM GIANOPULOS: That would be ideal. But, given the number of films, it’s logistically very difficult. That would be ideal. Yeah, it breaks my heart to put out a screener. But it’s part, as I was saying before, about process and purpose. And, sometimes, process has to yield to purpose. Life Of Pi we debuted in New York at the end of September, and it has been screening everywhere since and has been very well received. But you at least want people to have some access to it. If they can’t get to a screening, or choose not to, it’s worth it to have that working knowledge. Then you hope that what they see, even if it’s on a screener – again not preferred – that they’ll return and see the film in its proper place.
FLEMING: All of you make large canvas movies that it’s hard to really get a sense of what you’re seeing. If I saw Lincoln on an iPad, it wouldn’t be the same [as] if I saw it on the big screen. It’s a privilege to vote for the Oscars. Shouldn’t voters be required to show up for the nominated films if they want to cast a ballot and decide the Best Picture of the year?
ROB FRIEDMAN: First of all, you can’t require people to do that. Their membership doesn’t stipulate that. Second of all, people are working all around the world. You would be surprised how many Academy members do want to see it on the big screen. They do everything in their power to see it on the big screen. They’re screening constantly at Academy facilities around the world. So, whenever the studios make the films available, they’re immediately available to Academy membership, and those screenings are usually full. By and large, they do try to see it on the big screen.
JEFF ROBINOV: I think that Jim’s point – that obviously the best version is to see it on the big screen. Because that’s what we are making it for. It’s better to see the movie than to not see the movie at all.
JIM GIANOPULOS: It’s also an egalitarian thing. The purpose of banning screeners a few years ago was a noble one. It was just that many people, filmmakers, and companies felt disadvantaged because they didn’t have the resources to screen on the same level as others, and therefore didn’t have the same access to voters. So that created other difficulties because it disenfranchises films that, what for the lack of multiple screenings on the day you’re opening, wouldn’t be seen. So there are issues to it.
STACEY SNIDER: Hopefully Academy voters understand they get enough information about where they can catch them. I know, for me last year, I wouldn’t even watch The Artist at home on a big screen because I knew if I watched a silent movie by myself I wasn’t going to have the benefit. I was probably going to struggle. But, when you see it at the Second Street Theatre with a whole group of people, it comes to life. Pi will come to life in 3D. For Lincoln, we just watched a clip here that had two or three belly laughs. It’s hard to imagine a period procedural having so much entertainment value unless you’re enjoying it with a big audience. So hopefully we can convey that to Academy members, and they’ll not want to lose out on the experiences.
HAMMOND: Should we use the Academy Awards for other purposes too? There’s such a platform there. There’s 24 categories – live action short [and] a lot of categories that people aren’t invested in. Is there an idea that maybe you can have a section of the show devoted to some upcoming blockbuster movies that aren’t nominated or maybe coming out in the next year? You can use that platform for the industry and energize moviegoers?
JIM GIANOPULOS: That will be this year’s five-hour version of the show.
AMY PASCAL: I think that little guy that… No, I think that should be a sacred thing that we take really seriously. I don’t think it should be exploited for anything more than the greatest achievement for what our business does. And we should hold that dear. I don’t think we should sell anything with it. I think it should represent the best thing that all of us do. It should honor films like Batman and James Bond and all kinds of movies. (I got that in there! Stacey did that and slipped Lincoln in!)
FLEMING: How does Seth MacFarlane, who is now a movie star based on a film about a cussing R-rated bear, how does he fit into that pristine…?
AMY PASCAL: Well, I came here to talk about Zero Dark Thirty.
ROB MOORE: On that point, fact is you do have to have a balance in the show- that it needs to be entertaining and it needs to honor the best movies. And that’s the balance you’re looking for. You’re not looking to go to the extremes of saying, ‘This is no longer about honoring the greatest filmmaking.’ That’s the key to what the awards show is. And what we’re talking about is great filmmakers telling great stories. That’s what gets us all excited about the job we do. To then deliver that in an entertaining fun way- that’s the balance you’re hoping to find in the show that gets the most people to watch in honoring the greatest filmmakers.
ADAM FOGELSON: I think that’s exactly what Seth did. That’s about as good filmmaking as you’re gonna get. A cussing Teddy Bear doing that kind of business.
JEFF ROBINOV: Do you think you could broaden the scope with the types of the films that are included in The Academy? Sure.
FLEMING: Well, let’s [just] say I live on the East Coast [and] I think I should get some kind of an award if I stay awake until the end of the Oscars. So, Jeff, given what you just said, what changes can be made? Maybe there can be Best Comedy? Best Ensemble? Or, again, is that treading on hallow ground?
JEFF ROBINOV: No, those are two legitimate categories. If you can look at a film – we’ll plug ours, Argo. There’s 170-plus speaking parts, a number of different characters. It’s really an ensemble film. If you nominate the film, you feel like you should recognize that portion of it.
HAMMOND: OK, look at everybody else on the panel and tell me which film one of you made that you would have liked to have made yourself?
JIM GIANOPULOS: Mine is easy: Skyfall.
HAMMOND: When you’re making these films are there regrets like, ‘I could have had the Best Picture Oscar’?
ROB MOORE: Hard to know what would have happened. But, ultimately you’ll always have movies you didn’t make. Is that the same movie you would have made? Ultimately, it’s an intimate process when you’re in these movies with a filmmaker. So a movie that Bob Zemeckis made working with Brad Grey and Adam Goodman at Paramount isn’t necessarily the same movie he would make for someone else. At some point you have to accept each of the movies that inspired you. It was a great script, a great team, and therefore you made the best movie from it. It’s hard to then decide what we would have done if we made Argo versus how great a movie Bob Zemeckis made working with us on Flight. That’s what you can focus on.
AMY PASCAL: I’m going to speak for all of us who make mistakes for a living. It is what we do: we make lots of mistakes. Lots of things we don’t do, other people go on to do very well. But we have to make lots of decisions all the time. And I think the best thing to do is to focus on things that we did do, be they the right things or the wrong things. If we spend too much time doing what you asked us to do, we would be in bed with the covers over our head and never speak again.
FLEMING: Amy, a question for you on Zero Dark Thirty. How surprised were you to find that movie became sort of a political hot button over the idea that the filmmakers got cooperation from the Obama Administration that delved into classified material. And do you think – let’s face it, this Oscar stuff gets into, you know, these campaigns are aggressive and rugged – do you fear that might be an issue?
AMY PASCAL: I would never be surprised by anything the Republicans would do to win.
FLEMING: I’m sure there are Republican Academy voters.
AMY PASCAL: You know, Mark [Boal] … is an excellent journalist and one of the things that Kathryn [Bigelow] and Mark do, and set out to do, is make living history. They don’t wait for people. They don’t wait for books or articles or anything else to tell us how to feel about an event. They don’t wait for time or interpretation. What they’re doing with this movie is delving into something that is happening, that is in our hearts right now today and making us a part of it. It’s not that much of a political film as it is an emotional film, and a film about the greatest manhunt in the world, and a film about the unsung heroes. I think it will surprise everybody when you see it, to see it’s about the decent people in this country who no one ever knows, who protect us every day, who give their lives for absolutely no money, no recognition, who are the true superheroes of our time. They never get anything. I think they make movies about something that no one is making movies about, and I am not one bit worried.
FLEMING: Stacey, you’ve been kind of quiet, so let me ask you this [because] Harvey’s not here to answer the question: Joaquin Phoenix was wonderful in The Master, but he certainly doesn’t help his chances by basically disparaging the awards season process, basically calling it ‘total utter bullshit’. If that was your movie, your actor, what would you say to him? Let’s face it, this isn’t just based on merit. You have to get out there. When Meryl Streep got out there, she won the Oscar. When she didn’t for Julie & Julia, she didn’t win the Oscar. What’s the sensitive care and feeding of these stars on the awards circuit?
STACEY SNIDER: Oh, gosh, the care and feeding of movie stars in general – I don’t think we have enough time. I think everyone here on this panel, certainly I can speak for DreamWorks, we’re true believers. We really do think that movies can change the conversation. And so, when we’re presenting movies that rise to that, we’re expecting that everybody feels the same way that we do. I can speak to the people who were involved on Lincoln. It was a sacred endeavor. It’s not pretentious to say it. You felt that everyone was bringing their very best game. So for us it’s implicit and intuitive to find a way to present our movie, without being gross about it, without feeling that we’re pandering. So certainly, if someone was disparaging The Academy, it wouldn’t comport with who we are. But, by the same token, our goal is to present the movie and to be appropriate about it.
ADAM FOGELSON: I would just say – and I don’t know if this is true for everybody else - but we’re rarely surprised by what happens. You generally know whom you’re getting in business with. Not to disparage Joaquin, and he’s brilliant, but most of the time, the people you decide to work with you have some understanding of how they’re likely to handle the process. Those are parts of the decisions you make. You know the people who enjoy getting out there and want to do it and whose schedules are being protected to make that possible. You know the people who don’t like to do it. So, there may very well be surprises others have had here, but I find we had very few.
FLEMING: Would you make that a factor? Let’s say you have two great actors: would you give that role to that guy who could disparage the whole thing?
JEFF ROBINOV: You’ve got to go for the best movie, the best performance.
JIM GIANOPULOS: I think disparage and unavailability are two different things. Anthony Hopkins is Alfred Hitchcock in this movie and he’s making two films at the same time in London. And so [the actor says] ‘I commit myself to these filmmakers, and made that movie, and proud of that movie, but I can’t leave now.’ That’s not missing the process. That’s respecting the work that they’re doing.
ROB FRIEDMAN: It’s true, Anthony is workin. One of those films is mine. I know we always experience the same thing. It’s a juggling match, not just for the actors, but the directors, writers and other creative talent involved. Not only in the process, but the process of recognition for these films. But, by and large, 99% of the time, they want to jump in. People need to work and, by and large, they’re all supportive of the process.
HAMMOND: Well, I will leave you two to negotiate Anthony Hopkins’ free time.
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