Young Adult Is on the Campaign Trail

PHwnBZOqIm7IAA_1_mLast night’s “Young Adult” event at the New Beverly Cinema felt like a fresh departure from the standard-issue screening and q&a that’s so much a part of any film’s Academy campaign. Although the format wasn’t decidedly different — file into a theater, watch the film, listen to the cast and crew talk afterwards — the level of enthusiasm from the audience and the people involved with the film made the whole thing feel like a grassroots campaign stop. Anxious theatergoers gathered under the New Beverly’s marquee, which simply said “Secret Screening,” making it feel more like seeing a band at the El Rey.

In his introduction to the film, director Jason Reitman said that it was difficult to keep “Young Adult” under wraps so long because he was anxious for people to it. In fact, rather than taking the film to any festivals, he said it made more sense to create a festival around “YA,” showing it to audiences in six cities, giving each place its own limited-edition poster to commemorate the night and creating buzz on a local level. He added that for anyone expecting a repeat of the Oscar-winning “Juno,” “I apologize.”

Although the buzz on the film has been that Charlize Theron’s character is too unlikeable to really connect with audiences, the viewers crowded into the seats at the New Beverly didn’t seem to have any trouble laughing on cue, even when Theron’s lines were cutting. Nearly everyone stuck around for the follow-up q&a with Reitman, screenwriter Diablo Cody and stars Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt and Elizabeth Reaser, and they were rewarded with a funny, casual discussion.

All in all, it seems like a clever way to build the buzz on a film that not many industry people have seen yet while making sure its momentum doesn’t lose steam too quickly, as well as make sure ticket-buyers tell their friends about the exclusive event they got the chance to attend.

A chemistry-filled comedy is a natural winner in this format. Will the same thing work for Steven Spielberg’s drama, “War Horse”?

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