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Inside move: M’max plan foreign to rivals

Other Oscar noms' distribs not interested in screenings

It’s a 21st century, Oscar-campaign version of the Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland plots: Let’s find a theater and put on a show.

In a letter dated March 11, Miramax exec VP of worldwide publicity Amanda Lundberg proposes that all the distribs of the foreign-language Oscar nominees rent a theater or screening room in L.A. to show the five films this weekend. Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences rules state that voters in that category must see all the nominees on the bigscreen.

The letter suggests “four-walling a theatre in Los Angeles as soon as possible and playing all five nominated films on a rotating basis from now through the close of balloting.” Ballots are due March 19.

Miramax, which has France’s “Amelie” in the race, faxed the letter Monday to the other distribs: First Look, which has Norway’s “Elling”; Sony Pictures Classics, with Argentina’s “The Son of the Bride” and India’s “Lagaan”; and United Artists, which has Bosnia-Herzegovina’s “No Man’s Land.”

Execs at the other distribs told Daily Variety they’re probably not interested.

“We don’t want to be part of Miramax’s Academy campaign,” said one. “Everybody’s following the (Academy) rules as written, and the voters have had more exposure to the nominees than ever before.”

During the final balloting (Feb. 27-March 19), the Academy is hosting five screenings of each foreign-lingo nominee in L.A., plus three in N.Y., one in London and one in S.F. (The tallies were incorrect in a March 8 story). In addition, each distrib is hosting its own screenings.

Lundberg said, “We’re trying to be magnanimous. So many Academy members don’t even know that they can vote on this. We think it’s everybody’s responsibility to open this up for as many Academy voters as possible.”

She said that no matter what happens, the company would probably propose a similar plan next year.

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