Friday, February 10, 2012

Fox Searchlight, explains things, or try to

Brandon is looking for answers from Fox Searchlight.
In an interview with Deadline, the co-presidents of Fox Searchlight, Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley talk about the Oscar prospects of the other films they promoted, however, they were asked what the hell went wrong with the Shame campaign. I think that because the aftershocks of the snub is still knocking over a few things, and the Oscar nomination celebrations and pimping are in full swing... the media is still left pondering, 'Where's Michael Fassbender', and 'Why wasn't he nominated'? Michael's 'Who to Watch for Oscar' profiles can actively be seen in the current issue of Vanity Fair's Hollywood issue and this week's TIME magazine, featuring the hot contenders... and, the should have been contender Irish-German actor. Just as I was moving on being busy with life and grad school, there is always some article that makes reference to Michael not being nominated. And if you're sick of reading about it, too bad, disconnect from all things related to the entertainment industry on the Internet, because Michael's snub is big news.

DEADLINE: One unexpected award-season turn was Michael Fassbender not getting a Best Actor nomination for Shame. How much of your release strategy hinged on Oscar nomination love?

UTLEY: We released it to an art house audience intensely interested in seeing it, the small group of cinephiles who were following the festival news and the incredible press it got. We scooped up that money early on, and then the idea was, can we cross this over to a broader audience by getting some awards recognition? It’s very disappointing that didn’t happen. We did think that certainly Michael Fassbender, but also Carey Mulligan’s beautiful performance and this incredibly talented director Steve McQueen would have garnered more recognition. Despite our best efforts, the NC-17 rating probably put some voters off to the extent that they didn’t even watch the screener or see it in theaters. Because if you saw it, you would vote for it. Maybe we were a little too optimistic about people being able to overlook the rating, pop in that screener and give it a shot. We never bat 1000 but it’s up to us to take risks and swing for the fences. Sometimes, it works.

DEADLINE: You acquired Shame at Toronto, agreeing not to cut a frame and knowing it would be NC-17. That creates problems for DVD, VOD and TV unless you can cut an R version. Will the film pay off financially for Searchlight?

GILULA: I think it will be on the margins. We don’t have a specific plan to cut the film and that will limit its DVD distribution. But it’s holding in there quite nicely; we passed $3 million in limited release. The film is still playing in a crowded market, in spite of not getting a nomination. I think we will have a satisfactory result, but Nancy’s right. If we had gotten nominations, it would have gotten to a broader audience. But we are proud of this film and what we do in the after markets has not been fully fleshed out yet. It will go to HBO and travel through all the channels. I think there are some retailers that won’t put and X rated, excuse me, an NC-17 rated version up there, but we haven’t spent any time thinking about a cut version. Steve made an incredible film and everything is a piece of it. To chop it up?

UTLEY: It’s kinda baked in, ya know? This may not go down in history as one of our best business decisions but I’m still glad we took the risk. We tried to make it work the best we could.

Read full article here.
"We tried to make it work the best we could". Really Nancy?

So, anyway, let's root for Michael this weekend as we wish him the best of luck in hopefully taking home the Best Actor trophies from the Irish Film and Television Awards, and the BAFTAs!


Anonymous said...

I can pinpoint the EXACT moment Fox Searchlight cut their losses with Shame and put all their money behind The Descendants. It retrospect, it's almost jarring.

flora said...

Really interesting article, thank you. Please God don't let "Mr Hollywood" win on Sunday. BAFTA will be betraying its' entire ethos if he does.

Simone said...

Anon, in what point of time do you believe Fox Searchlight kicked Shame to the curb in favor of that other film?

Anonymous said...

Simone: I know this won't be a popular opinion, but it came right after the second wave of expansion that didn't produce the box office receipts they were hoping to maintain (and led to some theatres dropping the film outright). This was in conjunction with the film's final Rotten Tomato score hovering around 80. American critics by and large just didn't seem to "get it" like their European counterparts. I think Fox Searchlight knew that Shame needed at least a high 80s/low 90s Tomatometer score to overcome its restrictive NC17 rating. It had to be either a box office overperformer (relative to its release) or a critical SMASH to have the awards chances they needed to justify expanding it further.

Ranelle said...

Thanks for explaining, Anon.
Well it's done and I guess I'm just happy that they didn't change or edit the movie. And maybe the fuss over Michael's snub will be an eye opener for the AMPAS and may allow for change in the future. If not, the Oscars will just continue to become more and more irrelevant.

Simone said...

You definitely have a fine point anon. Thank you for sharing it.

Fox Searchlight did a bold thing in buying Shame, but when they also had the Descendents starring Mr. Hollywood - there's a serious conflict of interest in where their heart/wallet truly supported.

At the end of the day, I still feel that male nudity is on the NC17 checklist unfairly, and w/o Michael doing a full-frontal, Shame would have gotten an R rating. Plain and simple. This very belief is what pisses me off so much because all the female nudity and sexual scenarios in that film, fall under generic hard R rating. The sexism and double-standard is mind boggling. Had this film been Natalie Portman instead of Michael, she would have a second Oscar nomination.

A good looking fully naked angsty female is perfectly fine and normal. A good looking fully naked angsty male is abnormal and offensive.

Anonymous said...

No problem, Ranelle. I think they just gave critics and the average American moviegoer too much credit. It hate to be cynical, but this country still remains infantilized about issues pertaining to sex and nudity. I really hope for the same kind of paradigm shift that gave us the American cinematic renaissance of the 70s (and ground breaking films like Midnight Cowboy and Deliverance), but I'm not holding my breath. The younger generation will need to spearhead such a revolution.

Anonymous said...

Simone: agreed. It's okay to objectify the female nude form, but not the male. Rooney Mara's nomination exemplified that double standard. I also think the film was simply too "bleak" for AMPAS. They don't want something difficult or that may shake them. They want something made for easy consumption like Extemely Loud and Incredibly Close.

marcia said...

I'm not familiar with the ratings in the USA, but i know that most of the really gross and bloody horror teenage films there can be seen very easly, so why this prejudice with an intersting and inteligent film? Maybe its bc "Shame" makes you think about the life you have, your family,how one's past is important to one's present and future... and an horror movie ONLY incentivates violence, mainly against women? IDK...Today i went to watch the descendants, i liked it but SURE it's not an Oscar movie and every time i looked at Clooney i just wanted to laugh bc he has the same silly face/betrayed husband expression in all of his movies(imo). I agree with you guys male nudity is a problem for Hollywood, they are a male industry meaning it's ok if their sisters, wives and daughters go to the cinema and see a a woman naked , but it's no good if they go and watch a great performance of an amazing actor that happened to be naked for just a few seconds each time, this is the real SHAME. I imagine Viggo Mortensen had a similar problem in "Eastern Promises" :( I'm new here and i'm very glad for finding your blog, in less than 10 days i learnt a lot about films and cinema industry, THANK YOU :)

Anonymous said...

Viggo actually got nominated for his role in Eastern Promises. I think the main difference was that film was primarily a organized crime drama, and the scene in question revolved around violence. Ironically, Michael's penis was shown in a non-sexual context as well (during his morning routine), but the film's overall subject matter seemed to override this fact. In fact, AMPAS members may have simply assumed that his penis was shown during a sexual act if they never even bothered to watch the film.

Anonymous said...

Tried to make it work the best they could? Bullshit.

bluetea said...

I really don't like this patronising attitude this and other film companies seem to have towards us. This feeling they have the right to tell us what we should watch in the privacy of our own homes. That even though we are grown ups we cannot decide by our own choice what we should watch in the privacy of our own homes.So once again they may decide to cut an movie to shreds rather than treat us as the mature grown ups we are and let us watch the movie as it was intended to be seen by it's creators.

dshultz said...

Shit, I have exams next week, and every 5 minutes I'm taking a break to look up some Fassy (and other actors whom I love) news! And now, reading these trumped up execs' bullshit, I too pissed to get on track!

Damn/Love you Fassy!