Early DVD Campaigns Can Lead to Award-Show Upsets

In 2005, the early release Crash pulled off its big win in the Screen Actors Guild ensemble race — which foreshadowed its big upset on Oscar night—after ambushing Hollywood with non-watermarked DVDs. According to Tom O’Neil at the Los Angeles Times‘ Gold Derby blog, yesterday’s SAG Awards nominees prove two points: “how key it is to get your movie out early in theaters and then to campaign to voters with DVDs and Q&A screenings.”

Films like “Into the Wild” and even “3:10 to Yuma” that got screeners into the hands of voters early—after having an early theatrical release—rallied after mostly being snubbed at earlier kudos. Filmmaker Sean Penn is a four-time nominee, whose “Into the Wild” led the SAG derby today with three acting nods and an ensemble nomination. No small surprise that actors so enthusiastically backed a movie director and co-written by an actor.

Early release “Hairspray,” which also blitzed Hollywood with DVDs, got an ensemble bid after faring well at the Golden Globes. (But, hey, where’s John Travolta?) George Clooney didn’t do a SAG Q&A screening till late, but “Michael Clayton” rolled out to theaters early and so did its campaign DVDs, resulting in recognition for the performances of Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton.

Late-breaking films that didn’t get screeners out like “There Will Be Blood” (SAG fave Daniel Day-Lewis made the cut, yes, but no nom for supporting star Paul Dano) and “The Great Debaters” didn’t fare well either.