DreamWorks Animation fires up 'Dragon' campaign

DreamWorks Animation is unleashing a dragon on awards voters with an unseasonably early kudos appeal.

It’s already begun hosting screenings of 3D pic “How to Train Your Dragon” for guild members and members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences; another round is set to unspool in September and October.

It’s the earliest any award consultant can remember a company skedding an awards screening.

One reason for the screening jumpstart? The advent of digital 3D is creating a new wrinkle in the campaigning process.

DWA and Paramount Pictures, which distributed “Dragon,” want voters to see the film in 3D, which means seeing the pic in a theater instead of relying on screeners. The distribs didn’t want their film to get lost amid the crush of screenings later in the fall during the jam-packed kudos campaigning season.

“How to Train Your Dragon” is the best-reviewed of any DWA title, and the company will make an aggressive awards play.

A glossy brochure sent out in recent days to guild members and opinionmakers with screening dates asks that the pic be considered in all categories, including animated feature and picture.

Acad rules prohibit more elaborate mailers to members, so instead, DWA sent Academy voters a simpler calendar of screening dates.

The first screening was on Aug. 22 at the DGA theater in Los Angeles. The second followed at the DGA theater in New York on Aug. 28.

“I haven’t seen a studio start screening in August in the 10 years that I’ve been working on awards. It’s actually a great time to screen a movie because it’s quiet, and there are no competing screenings,” one studio exec said.

Screeners of “How to Train Your Dragon” will be sent out to award voters following the film’s homevid release on Oct. 15 — but they’ll have to watch the DVDs in good old 2D.

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