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The Dos and Don’ts

Let’s start with what a movie needs to accomplish in order for it to be entered into the race.

The movie needs to have an official release date within the calendar year, meet at least two out of four of the Academy’s representation and inclusion standards, and, unofficially, it’s a good strategy to court the “establishment” bloc.

Beyond that, movies need to have at least a one-week “initial qualifying run” in one of six cities; as of 2024, they will also need to have another seven-day stretch in 10 of 50 specific cities within a month and a half of their initial release.

It is against the rules to explicitly ask for an Academy member’s vote, or to publish an ad that trash-talks another movie.

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Lights, camera, campaign

In the past, “For Your Consideration” packages were mailed out to Academy voters (about 9,500 eligible people).

Since a lot of campaigning has moved online, “For Your Consideration” marketing has evolved to include directors putting together special trailers, buying ads in trade magazines, and concocting sometimes bizarre publicity stunts. For example, in 2006, David Lynch parked a cow at an L.A. intersection to support Laura Dern’s performance in Inland Empire.

Scene or be seen

Beyond the typical promotional circuit, custom movie premieres with champagne, five-star cuisine, and free designer clothing giveaways are popular promotional tactics.

There is also the strategy of entering movies in smaller festivals, like Santa Barbara or Palm Springs, to gauge audience reactions and test their potential for Oscars success.

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But why though?

Prestige films at smaller studios have spent up to tens of millions of dollars on campaigns; Netflix was estimated to have spent at least $25 million for 2018’s Roma.

Just getting nominated typically opens doors for more ambitious projects, means more ticket sales, and (hopefully) boosts careers.

But if you’ve wondered about the relevance of the awards in light of the politicking that goes on behind the scenes, the same kinds of questions have been being asked for almost a century. “Oscars electioneering” is almost as much of a tradition as the red carpet itself.

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Bronwyn Petry Email Specialist

Bronwyn is currently part of the email content team for Moneywise. Before starting here, they freelanced for several years, focusing on B2B content and technical copy. Pre-pandemic, you could find them planning their next trip, but lately, if they're not at work, you can find them hanging out with their cat and dog.

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