Paramount puts out ‘Fire’ screeners

6,000 Oscar voters to receive DVD Friday

In another sign that kudos campaigns are getting innovative in a jam-packed season, 6,000 Oscar voters will receive a screener of DreamWorks-Paramount’s “Things We Lost in the Fire” on Friday — the same day the film opens in theaters.

Par will also send screeners of the director’s cut of “Zodiac,” helmed by David Fincher, to the Producers Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, instead of the official release version. Move reps the first time Par has sent out a director’s cut.

The day-and-date mailing of “Fire” is unprecedented at this time of year. Traditionally, studios like to wait a month or two after films’ autumn bows to issue screeners.

As for the early mailing, “I think it is a great idea based on the glut of movies in the marketplace,” said Par prexy of worldwide marketing Gerry Rich. “Invariably, Academy members are going to be inundated with DVD screeners at the end of the year. We really believe in this movie, in its direction and in its performances. We thought, ‘Let’s seize this opportunity.’ ”

Rich credited the ideas to Terry Press, the former DreamWorks marketing topper who is the studio’s awards consultant.

Occasionally in years past, a film that opened in late December received a simultaneous mailing because strategists wanted to ensure that the movie was seen before kudos voters mailed in their ballots.

But as studios have learned, the earlier Oscar ceremonies have accelerated all phases of awards season, and the December glut of film bows (and screener mailings) makes it increasingly difficult for a movie to grab attention.

The Halle Berry-Benicio Del Toro starrer “Lost in the Fire” tells the story of a widow who forms a relationship with her husband’s childhood friend, a heroin addict.

In sending out the director’s cut of “Zodiac” — which has eight minutes of additional footage — Paramount wanted to show its support of Fincher and the movie.

Pic was a co-production of Paramount and Warner Bros., with Par handling domestic. (Fincher is directing “The Curious Case of Benjamin Studio” for Par and Warner.)

Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences rules stipulate that its voters can be sent only the version that was seen in theaters, so Paramount will deliver the original cut to Oscar voters. But because there is so much crossover in membership between AMPAS and the guilds, some voters will have both versions to view.