There’s nothing accidental about Ryan Gosling’s actor nom. Plans began at Sundance, says ThinkFilm distribution head Mark Urman, as critics were already invoking Oscar to honor Gosling’s “Half Nelson” perf. Here, Urman shares the full strategy on managing the pic’s momentum.
Part of it was picking a release date (Aug. 11) that would allow the film to get treated as well as it deserved. It was close enough to the fourth quarter to be positioned as an awards film, but it was just early enough that it wouldn’t be slaughtered by the post-Labor Day onslaught.
We also picked a moment that allowed the film to open to really excellent per-screen box office. Nobody likes a failure. No matter how good it is, a failure just sort of stops everything.
Other films that were more highly vaunted came and went; the list of actors who were potential competitors with Ryan Gosling kept on decreasing. We felt that we turned a corner sometime in late October, early November, where it seemed as if there were only seven or eight actors for five spots, and that’s when we knew that we had a real shot.
Trying meant making sure people saw the movie while the ink was still wet, while the praise was still fresh in memory. We were the second of the DVDs to be mailed to the entire membership. We didn’t just send it to actors; we wanted absolutely everyone who talked to another Academy member in any branch to have an opportunity to see the film. We were among the first to take out ads.
Ryan did all of the things that we asked him to do at that stage of the game. A lot of that was very subtle outreach because it didn’t make sense to have him do all of that beggarly shake-your-booty stuff.
We focused very heavily on all of the precursors and all of the harbinger awards.
He only showed up to say thank you for an accolade already given. And the best way to get the next accolade is to not pant and pander, so I think that the constant theme has been one of genuineness and proportion.