Oscar campaigns typically rev up around Labor Day with the Telluride, Venice and Toronto film festivals, where many of the hopeful contenders premiere. That doesn’t prevent studios from planting awards-season seeds early, especially for movies that open in the first half of the year. With that in mind, it appears we have our first bid for the 2018 Oscars.
Universal Pictures will host a conversation with director Jordan Peele and a “garden party” at the studio lot to celebrate the May 9 release of “Get Out” on iTunes and Amazon, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sources “insist” it’s not an awards ploy, but the guest list suggests otherwise: Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which oversees the Golden Globes, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which puts on the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, are invited to the event, among others.
Whether or not Universal intends it as such, this is a signature campaign move. A Q&A with a filmmaker in front of a hotshot voting body? Food and/or cocktails and/or whatever else this garden party will entail? These are the kinds of things that occur almost daily throughout November, December and January, when studios are actively chasing nominations. The only difference is that the “Get Out” shindig is divorced from the common awards-season calendar.
But that, too, makes sense: It’s hard for films from the first quarter to make a splash nearly a year later when Academy voters are completing their ballots. The most recent Best Picture winner released before May was “The Silence of the Lambs,” which opened in January 1991. Conveniently, that’s also the last horror movie to garner the prize, which could leave Peele following in the prestigious footsteps of “Lambs” director Jonathan Demme, who died Wednesday.
HuffPost reached out to two Universal reps to ask about the studio’s awards strategy, but we haven’t heard back. No matter what, there’s proof that Universal wants “Get Out” in the awards game: The studio rented out a Los Angeles theater in March to host two screenings ― one for Academy members and another for BAFTA folks. A week later, New York-based Academy members got a screening of their own at the Museum of Modern Art.
With fawning reviews, layered topicality and an unexpected $171 million in domestic grosses to its name, “Get Out” seems to have a keen chance of being remembered when Oscar season begins in earnest. Considering it doesn’t read as conventional awards fare, we did make an early argument that it’s the type of movie that should be feted. Onward!