Noah

Hoping to avoid the Oscar flood, Paramount has invited Academy voters to see “Noah” in theaters, using their membership cards for admission.

Oscar campaigns often start at least a year before the ceremonies, but most of the strategizing is done behind closed doors, preparing for later in the year. It’s unusual for a studio to start its campaigning so early.

Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences received an email this week alerting them to the fact that their card will admit them and a guest to “Noah.” Screeners and DVDs will no doubt be available later in 2014. However, Par obviously wanted to avoid a lost ark amid the dozens of discs that arrive in the fourth quarter. More important, “Noah,” with its big-scale designs, visual effects and cinematography, will benefit from being seen on the big screen.

In his review, Variety‘s chief film critic Scott Foundas described the film as “never less than fascinating — and sometimes dazzling” and praised many of the contributions, including those of director-co-writer Darren Aronofsky and star Russell Crowe as well as the below-the-line work.

There is a small number of other awards possibilities that have opened so far this year, such as Fox Searchlight’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” But generally, film companies save their awards-oriented films (and their campaigns) for the fourth quarter.

Since its March 28 release, “Noah” has earned $250 million globally, the majority of which has come from overseas engagements.

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