OSCARS: The Fest Circuit A Must For Majors Chasing Award Season Gold

By | Saturday November 16, 2013 @ 9:00am PST
Pete Hammond

The major studios have finally caught on to what the indies have known for years: There’s a definite trend brewing between success on the film-festival circuit and winning at the Oscars. In fact, the past seven Best Picture victories were born somewhere on the fest circuit — a place where buzz, particularly online, is becoming too loud to ignore. Since No Country For Old Men, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, every Best Picture winner has debuted at fests: Slumdog Millionaire (Telluride Film Festival, 2008), The Hurt Locker (Venice Film Festival, 2008), The King’s Speech (Telluride, 2010), The Artist (Cannes, 2011) and Argo (Toronto International Film Festival, 2012).

Related: Deadline Awards Watch 50: The Early Oscar Frenzy Edition

What really stands out is that the only film on that list that came from a major studio is Warner Bros’ Argo. That’s because early in this century, Hollywood was playing by the old rules, opening movies in the fall or Christmas, ignoring film festivals and still winning Best Picture statuettes at the Academy Awards. Between 2000 and 2006, only one Best Picture winner— 2005’s Toronto pickup Crash — had even played a festival. Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Million Dollar Baby and The Departed all used a different path to gold.

But things changed last year with Argo, whose festival debut created buzz that carried the story about the rescue of six diplomats amid the Iran hostage crisis all the way to an Oscar. Prior to that, Warner Bros had achieved its most recent Oscar success with off-the-circuit Best Picture winners like The Departed and Million Dollar Baby. The Argo strategy allowed the studio — which was dying to stop Harvey Weinstein from grabbing a third Best Picture trophy in a row — to grow the buzz from two important fall fests and build Argo as a legitimate contender.

Related: Oscar Contenders Flock To Telluride As Festival Season Arrives

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Cirque Du Soleil And UCLA Film School Partner On Student Fellowship Program

By | Thursday March 28, 2013 @ 3:47pm PDT

The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) is teaming up with Cirque du Soleil on a multi-year fellowship program for TFT graduate students, it was announced today. Dean Teri Schwartz says the collaboration offers students the … Read More »

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OSCARS: Early-Year Festivals Even More Important To Awards Campaigns

By | Saturday November 3, 2012 @ 8:00pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Awards season is turning into a year-’round affair when it comes to the festival circuit. Though film festivals haven’t always had a strong impact on the Oscar race, this year in particular demonstrates that awards positioning is starting much earlier—so early, in fact, that some of the jockeying for the 2013 Academy Awards started even before the red carpet unfurled for the 2012 ceremony.
While the fall-fest triumvirate of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto has long been considered the true start of the six-month season, campaigners have started using fests like January’s Sundance, May’s Cannes, and even June’s frothier Los Angeles Film Festival as places to spotlight a potential awards player. Though studios and distributors still closely concentrate their awards contenders in the fall timeframe, this year saw more early hints at which films have Oscar hopes. Read More »

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‘Source Code’ To Open SXSW Film Festival

Mike Fleming

The Duncan Jones-directed Source Code will be the opening night film of the South by Southwest Film Festival. The fest runs March 11-19 in Austin, Texas. Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright. The film … Read More »

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Long Island Starts Gold Coast Film Festival

By | Thursday December 9, 2010 @ 11:06am PST
Mike Fleming

Hey, New York, ready for another film festival? The Gold Coast International Film Festival will launch in June through the Great Neck Arts Center. The festival’s executive director will be  GNAC founder Regina Gil. Senior programmer will be Sean McPhillips, the former Miramax acquisitions executive who most recently programmed the … Read More »

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Sundance Institute: Film Forward 1st Slate

By | Monday November 29, 2010 @ 1:46pm PST

LOS ANGELES, CA – Following up on last month’s announcement of the Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue initiative, Sundance Institute announced today the ten films selected to participate in the inaugural year of this cultural exchange program. The first Film Forward slate includes five American and five international films

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Robert Redford Talks About UK Sundance

By | Friday October 8, 2010 @ 5:41am PDT

O2, the London concert venue, is in discussions with Sundance founder Robert Redford about staging a film festival. All O2 will say publicly is it would love to host a UK version of the Utah event. Negotiations are still … Read More »

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Latest UK On-Demand Movie Service Elbows Its Way Into Crowded Market

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 8:45am PDT

PD*10000606Projector.tv, the newest internet movie service, is in talks with local distribs Icon and Artificial Eye. It has already licensed 43 films from Metrodome for its video-on-demand business. The service aims to have 20,000 registered users within two to three years, … Read More »

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Weinstein Takes U.S.+ Rights To Woo Pic

By | Friday June 11, 2010 @ 10:32am PDT

weinsteinlogoShanghai, June 11, 2010: On the eve of the Shanghai Film Festival, Fortissimo Films Chairman Michael J. Werner and The Weinstein Company’s Bob and Harvey Weinstein jointly announced that The Weinstein Company has pre-bought North American and South African rights

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CANNES: ‘Uncle Boonmee’ Wins Palme D’Or

By | Sunday May 23, 2010 @ 11:06am PDT


CANNES Film Festival 2010: Full List Of Winners

cannes3Palme d’Or (Top Prize)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Grand Prix (Runner-Up)
Des Hommes Et Read More »

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CANNES: ‘Hahaha’ Wins Un Certain Regard

By | Saturday May 22, 2010 @ 11:56am PDT

South Korean director Hong Sangsoo’s film recounts differing memories that an aspiring film director and a young film critic have of their separate visits to seaside town Tong-yeong. Daniel and Diego Vega’s film Octubre won the Jury Prize, while the Best Performance award was tied between three actresses in Argentinian … Read More »

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CANNES: Ken Loach Swipes ‘Hurt Locker’

By | Saturday May 22, 2010 @ 2:33am PDT

Ken Loach CannesThe director has blasted Hollywood for glorifying the sacrifices which American soldiers have made in Iraq war films, while ignoring civilian casualties. Loach, whose latest film Route Irish is competing here, said at this afternoon’s press conference … Read More »

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CANNES: Equity Becoming Increasingly Important, Say Financiers

By | Saturday May 22, 2010 @ 2:32am PDT

The pre-sale market has dried up and is never coming back, financiers at this year’s Cannes tell me. That, combined with fewer banks lending to producers, means equity investment is more important than ever. Even those private lenders still left in the game, say they want to fully finance their … Read More »

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CANNES: Sony Pictures Classics Acquires ‘Of Gods And Men’

By | Friday May 21, 2010 @ 1:50pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired U.S. and Australia/New Zealand rights to Of Gods and Men, the Xavier Beauvois-directed drama that unspooled in competition at Cannes. Deal was made by sales agent Wild Bunch. Drama is the story of eight French Christian monks who live in harmony with their Muslim brothers … Read More »

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CANNES: ‘Fair Game’ Gets Mixed Reaction

By | Friday May 21, 2010 @ 3:10am PDT

Naomi Watts Fair Game CannesAfter some initial good press, there were boos as well as applause for the only American movie In Competition at its first screening at Cannes. Critics here feel it’s too conventional to be … Read More »

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CANNES: Market Deals Round-Up

By | Friday May 21, 2010 @ 12:56am PDT

– Optimum UK has taken Reliance Big Pictures’ Kites from IM Global. Brett Ratner has done a “remix” of the original Hindi film. Kites has also been sold to other major territories, including France, Germany Australia/New Zealand.

– High Point Media has sold $290,000 UK feature The Be All And End Read More »

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CANNES: News In Brief Round-Up

By | Friday May 21, 2010 @ 12:38am PDT

– Andy Serkis, the actor who will play Gollum again in Guillermo Del Toro’s Hobbit, plans to direct his first feature next year. Serkis has formed a production company, Caveman Films, with Bridget Jones producer Jonathan Cavendish. Serkis tells me it’s a psychological thriller. Caveman’s first co-production, Alicia Duffy’s All Read More »

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CANNES: ‘Fair Game’ Not A Political Film?

By | Thursday May 20, 2010 @ 12:46pm PDT

Doug Liman Fair GameFair Game director Doug Liman’s film was well received at Cannes as a political exposé of the Bush administration’s White House press leak regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame, played by Naomi Watts. But  Liman told this … Read More »

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CANNES: Marketplace Treads On Tedious

By | Thursday May 20, 2010 @ 9:09am PDT
Mike Fleming

1-Cover_rubberHow tough has the Cannes Film Festival marketplace been for domestic acquisitions? The deal of the day so far is Magnet Releasing’s U.S. rights acquisition of Rubber, the Cannes Critic’s Week offering about a psychopathic car tire with telepathic powers named … Read More »

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