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Academy Tightens Some Oscar Campaign Rules, Allows More Direct Marketing to Members

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 25, 2012 at 1:34PM

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences constantly updates the regulations for how distributors, talent and campaigners market movies to Academy voters. According to outgoing Academy President Tom Sherak, “these rules help us maintain a level playing field for all of the nominees and protect the integrity of the Awards process.”
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The Academy's Tom Sherak, Dawn Hudson and Ric Robertson
The Academy's Tom Sherak, Dawn Hudson and Ric Robertson

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences constantly updates the regulations for how distributors, talent and campaigners market movies to Academy voters. According to outgoing Academy President Tom Sherak (who isn't seeking another term and will be replaced by the Governors later this summer) “these rules help us maintain a level playing field for all of the nominees and protect the integrity of the Awards process.”

Already, the Academy has launched a major change, allowing Q & As at their weekend Academy screenings. I attended one for "Men in Black 3" with makeup artist Rick Baker and VFX maestro Ken Ralston, which I enjoyed, but found it odd that the Academy was actively encouraging direct marketing to its members. The Academy pays various journalists such as Cari Beauchamp to conduct the interviews (which they are not supposed to turn into stories), but does not allow for questions from the members. I don't get it.

During the pre-nominations phase of last year's award season, the Academy allowed distributors to invite members to screenings that were introduced by filmmakers and/or cast, who also were able to chat with members over drinks and supper following the movie. Several Academy members have expressed discomfort to me about both of these changes, which are designed to lure increased participation from some 6000 Academy voters--a relatively small number attend the weekend and foreign screenings.

Marketers are adept at skirting these regulations by defining their screenings as involving all the guilds or a DVD release or some such semantic distinction. See the way the regulations are worded below:

This article is related to: Academy Awards, Oscars, Awards, Awards


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.