Why wasn’t Game Change released theatrically?

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  • Big Explosions
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    #138291

    I just watched the HBO film Game Change and I can’t wrap my head around why it wasn’t released theatrically?

    It had a very relevant topic in an election year and was prettymuch making fun of a public figure that literally everybody loves to make fun of. I think it could have been a very respectable hit with American audiences (it was HBO’s highest rated telefilm since 2004) and done decently internationally. It has a 74 on metacritic so I don’t think critics were the main concern.

    Moore’s performance was the equivalent of DDL’s Lincoln performance imo (fantastic actor completely melting into their role as a public figure) and would have breathed life into that deadbeat Best Actress category. Overdue Ed Harris could’ve been a significant factor in the BSA lineup of previous winners.

    Had it been released theatrically I think it would’ve been locked for noms for Actress, Supporting Actor, screenplay and makeup, and a possibility for Picture, Actor and maybe more (depending on how competitive each field truly was).

    Thoughts?

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    Nessie
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    #138293

    Really a shame. HBO did the same thing with “Behind the Candelabra”. Julianne could have won easily. She was interviewed on Graham Norton’s show in the UK last week and she sounded really sad when she said she was 0 for 4 Oscar nominations.

    I think Ed Harris, Woody Harrelson and Sarah Paulson would have been in the running. 

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    Scottferguson
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    #138294

    Films made for cable or TV, if released theatrically, immediately revert to union contracts for film rather than TV for all positions across the cast and crew. That alone keeps nearly everyone from considering doing so. But HBO also wants to protect its brand, which includes thinking that quality is not solely judged by Oscar nominations. And releasing theatrically involves paying someone to do the distribution work, then also paying for millions of dollars of marketing expense.

    They also like to basically say, we are as valid as theatrical movies. If they get a project, they want it to be known as part of their brand.

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    Beau S.
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    #138295

    Moore would have sweeped like Blanchett is this year. Harvey probably would’ve campaigned Lawrence in supporting for SLP if Moore was a factor (like he tried to do with Meryl in A:OC when Blanchett emerged as the real deal).

    Ed Harris probably would’ve been a likely winner up against all of the previous winners. Not sure if Harrelson or Paulson would’ve been able to break into their respective categories (maybe Harrelson would’ve been frauded into supporting), though Paulson probably would’ve had more of a shot in her category than he would. Danny Strong probably would’ve gotten an adapted screenplay nod, though I’m not sure if it would be strong enough for a Picture or Director nod.

    And yeah, it definitely had the potential to be a BO hit. Though it might’ve met controversy and criticism from Republicans about being released in an election year.

    Oh well, really a damn shame. At least it did well at the Emmys.

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    Icky
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    #138296

    It wasn’t released in theaters simply because it was produced by HBO. It’s not the first TV that could have garnered Oscar buzz if released in theaters. It won’t be the last. There are other TV films throughout the years that seems like more obvious Oscar contenders than Game Change.

    I’m not certain that Moore would have swept the awards. Movie critics would have offered heavier scrutiny than TV critics did, and Game Change is a rather one-note and visually flat flick. Nominations at least would have likely been thrown Moore’s way. 

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    Riley
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    #138297

    Standards are lower for television films than theatrical releases, so as Icky said, it would have been more scrutinized.  No way would it have made the Best Picture lineup for example.  As for Behind the Candelabra, none of the film studios would pick it up, so that is how it ended up at HBO.

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    Actriz
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    #138298

    No Best Picture nomination (not even in an election year) but Moore would be a huge threat.

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    MERYLMADNESS
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    #138299

    I think the OP is stretching it a little, but a win for Moore and makeup is extremely picture-able and I could see notice in supporting actor and adapted screenplay. Pic, director, actor and sup actress were too competitive.

    Great little TV movie with a showstopping central performance from Moore, but film critics probably would’ve scored it in the low 60’s on metacritic.

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    MERYLMADNESS
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    #138300

    ETA: I do agree though it would’ve been financially successful and would’ve had strong word-of-mouth among Palin haters.

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    Gabriel
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    #138301

    It was mediocre tv movie material that wouldn’t have done well as a theatrical film, imo. And I love Julianne Moore, but I think people are overpraising her performance here. I don’t think she would have swept awards season at all.

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    Asgaroth
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    #138302

    It’s such a lame for Julianne Moore. She would probably have her long deserved oscar in her mantle by now had this movie been released in cinemas. She would have become the absolute favorite to win given her overdue status and how weak was the best actress category last year.

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    Gabriel
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    #138303

    I would prefer Julianne Moore to win an Oscar for an interesting original character, not for playing Sarah freaking Palin in a mediocre biopic.

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    Asgaroth
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    #138304

    I would have preferred that in the past, but now at over 50 good roles aren’t that available for her as they were in the past so I just want her to win a leading actress oscar not caring what role for.

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    DominicCobb
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    #138305

    I really liked Game Change, but as others said it wasn’t quite Oscar level. It was a TV movie. A damn good one, but one nonetheless. Behind the Candelabra, on the other hand, was typical Soderbergh, and it’s a shame that wasn’t released theatrically (as it is supposedly his last film), though I doubt it would have made too much of an impact considering how crowded this year was.

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    Logan
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    #138306

    I preferred Fey’s version, but I think that Moore would have been nominated.

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