Head-Scratcher #37

Annoyed by the one-week exposure of Steve McQueen‘s Hunger, Film Experience’s Nathaniel Rogers is claiming that the one-week qualifying runs are “cheating…they’re a loophole. You are not really a 2008 movie if you open at one theater in one city for one week and then remove yourself quickly to plan for 2009. The idea, for all films that try this tactic, is to win Oscar nods and hope that that will boost their profile when they open for real. But this is rather like trying to pay rent by buying yourself a lottery ticket.

“It’s not easy to get Oscar nods — particularly for small art films — and many films that go this route never make good on their ‘opening in February/March’ claims when they find themselves without Oscar nods… which is the case more often than not. Oops. The system as it is stinks; It’s not healthy for these small movies, it screws with the structural calendar idea of awards systems and most importantly, it’s no good for the movie-loving audience who are left out of the conversation altogether.”

  • buckzollo

    The movie is so graphic and intense. McQueen is mad talented but curious if he will choose to focus his artistic vision on something…er, less shit-smeared? Hands down the best 171/2 minute take you will see in any film this year.

  • http://www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com rgmax99

    This has been a regular practice for decades. Didn’t The Deer Hunter open for only one week for Academy consideration in December of 78? I was a kid, but I remember seeing the ads in the L.A. Times for that particular run.

    BUT: longstanding practice or not, I agree with what Rogers is saying.

  • http://fromthefrontrow.blogspot.com Matthew Lucas

    I’ve been discussing the same thing over at my blog over the last few days:

    http://fromthefrontrow.blogspot.com/2008/12/for-your-consideration-michael.html

    http://fromthefrontrow.blogspot.com/2008/12/review-hunger.html

    Oscar qualifying runs are a counterproductive kiss of death. I have no idea why the studios insist on them. They rarely ever work.

  • http://www.robertcashill.blogspot.com btwnproductions

    The Oscar-qualifying run is just that, to put it into contention. What films haven’t gone on from there to get a release, even the usual small, arthouse one, in the next year? The author states that many films are orphaned by this strategy. Which ones?

  • http://fromthefrontrow.blogspot.com Matthew Lucas

    “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days.”

    ‘Nuff said.

  • http://www.robertcashill.blogspot.com btwnproductions

    4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS played NY for at least a couple of months early this year. Oscar nom or not, that’s how the distributor chose to play it. Plenty of deserving pictures don’t run in more than a handful of cities, which is unfortunate but has nothing to do with end-of-year placement.

  • http://fromthefrontrow.blogspot.com Matthew Lucas

    That’s true but it only played one week in LA in 2007, which is the point here.

    “Hunger” will also play in NY…in March.

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