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Hollywood Trades are Clearly in the Tank for Frost/Nixon

variety-frostnixon

The photo above comes to us from The New York Times’ David Carr, known more fondly as The Bagger. In one of his updates today, Carr points out that both Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have been doing what they always do, allowing their covers to be used for big, loud “For Your Consideration” advertisements. But over the past two weeks, both THR and Daily Variety have been taken over by Universal and Imagine Entertainment’s Frost/Nixon, a serious Best Picture candidate.

As many of you may or may not know, it is customary for studios to throw large amounts of money at campaigns for their Oscar hopefuls. And as Nikki Finke pointed out yesterday, even though studios are in the midst of laying off large portions of their employees, they have continued to buy up FYC ad spots all over the place. The most egregious offender seems to be Paramount, who on the day Viacom took a hatchet to its staffing board, Paramount had a color gatefold ad in Variety for The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. Cost: $250,000, or as Finke points out “about 5 assistants’ salaries.”

But while many industry pundits, especially Ms. Finke, are calling on studios to be less showy during the economic crisis, my concern turns to the fairness of the Oscar race. The folks who read these trade papers are most often industry workers that make up the Academy. And as we’ve found so often in the box office world, good marketing can deliver results for a subpar movie. This is why Spider-Man 3 made so much on opening weekend, despite being the weakest of its franchise. That said, I’m always weary that films such as Slumdog Millionaire will somehow be overlooked because of a great marketing campaign in support of Benjamin Button or Frost/Nixon. Not to say that those movies aren’t deserving, but they should win on their merits as good films, not the merits of their publicity departments. My hope is that all of the organic buzz generated by Slumdog will be enough to carry it to a Best Picture win. But I suppose we’ll see.

Do you think that “For Your Consideration” advertising is a fair practice? Should the movie with the most money behind it have the best chance at Oscar gold?

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet.

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