HOLLYWOOD — What becomes a legend most? For the Academy, it’s Marilyn Monroe singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” to celebrate Oscar’s 75th — or diamond — anniversary in a promotional trailer unspooling March 1-23 in theaters in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
For more than 20 years, the Academy has distributed its theatrical trailer in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, encouraging moviegoers to tune in to the Oscarcast.
This year the Academy struck 14,000 prints of the 60-second trailer, targeting mom-and-pop theaters as well as cinema chains such as AMC and Loew’s, says Randy Haberkamp, the Acad’s program coordinator for educational and special projects. The exhibitors do not charge the Academy to run the short film, which Haberkamp says is funded by AMPAS, with ABC, the network airing the awards, “pitching in”; Deluxe Labs and Kodak also are sponsors.
The trailer’s concept changes from year to year, but the formula has remained the same: nominees for best actress, actor and picture are presented in alphabetical order (to prevent any appearance of favoritism). The clips used are culled from those provided by the studios — before the noms are announced — of every potential nominee.
Next year, however, Haberkamp says, will be, “a whole new ballgame,” thanks to an earlier show date and shortened nominee deadline. “The plan right now is to come up with a trailer that isn’t nominee-oriented and can go out earlier,” he says.
The 75th-anniversary trailer marks the first time the Academy has set the nominee clips to a vocal — the classic musical sequence from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953), in which Monroe, draped in a pink strapless gown and opera gloves, vamps in praise of the precious stones. This decision, Haberkamp admits, made the process “a bit complicated,” as the org had to obtain the rights to the Jules Styne/Leo Robin song, the clip from Fox’s “Gentlemen” and Monroe’s image.
As in years past, AMPAS asked production companies to pitch ideas and concepts for the trailer while remaining within certain parameters, which included using an orchestral score. Haberkamp says local trailer house Alkemi Entertainment pitched the Marilyn Monroe concept “right up front” and landed the commission in November despite eschewing a musical score in favor of the song.
Kenji Thielstrom, a senior producer at Alkemi, credits creative exec Barry Schoor with the idea. Although the silver screen icon was never nominated for an Oscar, Thielstrom says, “We thought of Marilyn Monroe because she embodies so much about what the Academy stands for. She’s glamorous and she represents the romance of movies.”