×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Harvey Weinstein Taps Trump’s Travel Ban for New ‘Lion’ Oscar Messaging

When it comes to awards season, Harvey Weinstein has a long history of tethering his contenders to the zeitgeist, or at least to a wider-ranging socio-political concern. And it usually happens in phase two, as campaigns begin to pivot toward a win.

For “Philomena” in early 2014, writer-star Steve Coogan and the film’s eponymous subject Philomena Lee were shuffled off to Rome for an audience with Pope Francis. They were there as representatives of the Philomena Project, which aims to raise public awareness in Ireland and around the world on the issue of forced and illegal adoptions and to help reunite families with the advancement of open records legislation in Ireland.

Weinstein himself hit the morning shows on behalf of “The Imitation Game” in early 2015, calling on the British government to pardon the thousands whose lives had been ruined with convictions under laws forbidding homosexuality, which was not decriminalized in the U.K. until 1967. He was even willing to give up his Commander of the Order of the British Empire designation to see it happen, he declared at the time.

And in early 2013, “Silver Linings Playbook” star Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell put on a rather strained show of meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss mental health issues. Because the lead character had bipolar disorder, you see.

Right on schedule this year, “Lion” is receiving similar treatment. An ad for the film in Thursday’s Los Angeles Times featured young actor Sunny Pawar, and it confronted the issue of Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries head-on. “It took an extraordinary effort to get 8-year-old actor Sunny Pawar a visa so that he could come to America for the very first time,” the ad reads. “Next year, that might not be an option.”

And like so many phase two campaigns, which tend to shift messaging to something more pointed — “Find Your Voice” for “The King’s Speech” comes to mind — this ad ties things together with a subtle nod to the immigration debate. “Remember where you came from,” it reads.

A follow-up placement enlisting quotes from the likes of Madeleine Albright and Salman Rushdie is set to run Friday.

Even when you can see through the effort — awards attention for these films equals box office potential, and “Lion” finally pulled the trigger on a wide release last weekend — the organic quality of this sort of messaging is impressive. You use what’s available to you in an Oscar campaign. Trump handed Weinstein an opportunity. It would be naive to assume he’d pass it up.

“Lion” is nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture, best supporting actor (Dev Patel), best supporting actress (Nicole Kidman) and best adapted screenplay.

 

More Film

  • Noah CentineoNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Kids’ Choice Awards 2019: JoJo Siwa, Noah Centineo Take on Bullying

    This year’s Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards was full of positivity and encouragement to be yourself. DJ Khaled, known for his upbeat mantras, hosted the 32nd annual awards ceremony alongside JoJo Siwa at USC’s Galen center. Siwa accepted the award for favorite social music star. Siwa said in her acceptance speech, “I get hated on every [...]

  • Us Scriptwriter and Film-maker Larry Cohen

    Larry Cohen, Cult Horror Writer-Director of 'It's Alive,' Dies at 77

    Larry Cohen, best known for his work as a B-movie producer and director in the ’70s and his later work in screenwriting, has died. He was 77. Cohen’s friend, actor and publicist Shade Rupe, confirmed the news, which was announced in a post to Cohen’s official Facebook page. Rupe said Cohen died in Los Angeles [...]

  • Captain Marvel

    Box Office: 'Captain Marvel' Shatters $900 Million Milestone

    Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel” continues to do heroic business. In its latest box office milestone, the female-fronted superhero tentpole zoomed past $900 million in ticket sales worldwide. “Captain Marvel” brought in a mighty $87 million globally this weekend, including $52 million from international territories. It has now generated $589 million overseas for a global haul [...]

  • Us - Lupita Nyong’o - cr:

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' Stuns With $70 Million Opening Weekend

    Talk about scary good. Universal’s “Us,” the second directorial effort from Jordan Peele, pulled off a stunning debut, generating $70 million from 3,741 North American locations. That haul is enough to land it the second-best opening weekend of the year behind Disney’s “Captain Marvel” ($153 million). The psychological thriller about a family confronted by a [...]

  • 'Shazam!' Review: Zachary Levi is Pure

    Film Review: 'Shazam!'

    In “Shazam!,” Zachary Levi brings off something so winning it’s irresistible. He plays a square-jawed, rippling-muscled man of might, with a cheesy Day-Glo lighting bolt affixed to his chest, who projects an insanely wholesome and old-fashioned idea of what a superhero can be. But he’s also playing a breathless teenage kid on the inside, and [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content