For the lucky actors, actresses, filmmakers and craftspeople who receive word early Tuesday morning that they’ve been nominated for an Academy Award, the call is certainly unadulterated good news.
But for the people who mastermind Oscar campaigns, Tuesday launches four weeks of carefully navigating new rules instituted last year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that amount to the showbiz equivalent of campaign finance reform.
The new regulations address what has become an escalating arms race at Oscar time, as producers and studios have become increasingly aggressive and profligate in promoting actors and films for awards.
Oscar-specific marketing campaigns can run the gamut from a few million to tens of millions of dollars, with the promotional budget often outstripping the amount of money it took to make the film (and whittling away whatever earnings it might accrue from an Oscar win), exchanging profit for prestige.
The new strictures may remind Washingtonians of rules that specify what kinds of foods, and under what social circumstances, federal employees could enjoy the last holiday season without running afoul of ethics guidelines. For example, until Tuesday actors and filmmakers related to eligible films could attend an unlimited number of parties and screenings, and for the first time they could specifically include Academy members. (In the past, filmmakers were forbidden to invite Academy members to those events.)