There’s a rumor flying around Hollywood right now that 20th Century Fox didn’t send out a DVD of “Life of Pi” to Oscar voters. Not true. They got it very late, granted – on Dec. 24 (Merry Christmas Eve, academy members!) – but they got it.
Why, you must wonder, would any contender send out their DVD screener seven days after Oscar voting began? “Life of Pi” wasn’t the only one to arrive late in the derby. “Lincoln” and “The Hobbit” hit members’ mailboxes a few days before voting commenced on Dec. 17. Afterward, voters received “Django Unchained” around the 19th, “Les Miserables” around Dec. 21.
Just in case you’re curious, here are the dates of the other top Oscar contenders: “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty” (Dec. 12), “Flight” (Dec. 7), “Hitchcock” and “The Master” (Dec. 4), “Argo” (Nov. 20), “Moonrise Kingdom” (Nov. 15).
Studios that send out their screeners late are taking a big risk – they could get buried under the stack piling up on top of voters’ DVD players. This year voters received more than 50 campaign discs.
But some campaigners are deliberately tardy because they believe in a curious Oscar theory known as The Last Movie Seen. Harvey Weinstein is one of its adherents – he’s told me that he thinks it is best for a film either to be one of the first DVDs shipped to voters (catch voters early when they’re eager to get their screeners) or the last (it’s fresh, on top of voters’ minds). That’s how, he says, he got those two nominations for “Transamerica” — Best Song and Best Actress. Harvey made sure it was the last DVD sent to voters in 2005.
Since then, the Oscar voting calendar has moved up a lot. Now is it wise to ship so late?