Miramax scores with heavy marketing push

Call it the year of the mini-major.

Among distributors, Miramax was far and away the biggest winner Monday night, walking away with exactly half of the evening’s 24 awards.

In addition to the nine for “The English Patient,” the Disney-owned company also was the distributor of Oscar winners “Kolya” (foreign-language pic), “Sling Blade” (adapted screenplay) and “Emma” (original comedy or mu-sical score).

As it had with 1994’s “Pulp Fiction” and 1995’s “The Postman” (Il Postino), Miramax conducted a massive market-ing campaign to get the attention of Academy members. The company’s Oscar blitz included pay-cable infomer-cials about the making of “English Patient” and “Sling Blade,” massive trade ad campaigns and even telemarket-ing.

Among the major studios, Buena Vista, DreamWorks, Fine Line, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Universal each took a single statuette.

Completely shut out were Warner Bros., MGM/UA and October Releasing, whose five-time nominee “Secrets & Lies” came up empty-handed in the voting.

In contrast to Miramax’s aggressive marketing, October Releasing took a much lower-key approach to hyping Mike Leigh’s “Secrets & Lies” and its star, Brenda Blethyn.

The actress, who won a Golden Globe as well as praise from critics groups in L.A. and Boston, was seen as a con-tender early on but saw her chances fade as the race wore on.

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