Saturday, May 18, 2024

How to Promote Oscar Movies: No Screenings? No Problem! Old Fashioned Billboards Are Getting the Message to Voters


Voting for the Academy awards starts in five days, you know, on April 15th. In a normal year, there would be screenings, cocktail parties, Peggy Siegal lunches on the East Coast, Colleen Camp dinners on the west coast, for Academy members. (Next year, please God!)

This year, it’s silence.

So how to get out the vote? Billboards! Old fashioned billboards.

Last year, Brian Kennedy and his brother split up their partnership owning Regency Billboards in Los Angeles. They had all the prime spots where Academy voters — stuck in traffic — would see reminders of best films and performances. Brian took over ownership of Regency and now has the lion’s share of prime real estate around Tinseltown. Waiting for that light to change? Look, it’s a billboard! Want an Oscar? Call Brian Kennedy!

Currently Regency has 16 massive billboards placed in strategic locations across the L.A. area promoting movies from Netflix, Disney, Searchlight, Warner Bros, and Amazon Studios. The films include front runner “Nomadland,” plus “Mank,” “Soul,” “Tenet,” “Ma Rainey,” “Chicago 7,” “One Night in Miami,” “Borat 2,” and “The Sound of Metal.”

For “Nomadland,” which stars Frances McDormand, the whole billboard thing is a little ironic. A couple of years ago, McDormand won the Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and so did Sam Rockwell. And that was a movie about the influence of billboards. That was life helping the art it was all about in the first place.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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