There’s something different about Warner’s newspaper ads and TV spots for “Michael Clayton” — and no, it’s not the obsessive listing of awards and nominations. That’s standard practice for an Oscar reissue.
Take a closer look at the text at the bottom of the ad, before the “Now Playing in Theaters Everywhere” stuff … and you’ll see a throw to the DVD release.
This is unprecedented. I mean, scheduling a DVD release to capitalize on presumed Oscar glory is nothing new. New Line held “The Player” back from video for nearly a full year, finally putting it out on VHS the day after the 1993 ceremony (at which it won exactly squat); when the Academy altered its campaigning rules in 2003, refining the ways in which studios could pimp their contenders, Universal scheduled the release of “Seabiscuit” for mid-December, and saturated America with legitimate ads for the DVD release — ads that just so happened to be peppered with pull-quotes about the movie’s Oscar-worthiness.
Studios have been adjusting their home-video strategies to fit ever since, which is why so many serious fall films are rushing to DVD in December and January instead of waiting for April or May, as they did in the good old days when prestige titles could run for months and months. Everything moves so much faster now, and even the most acclaimed films are over in a matter of weeks … but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a studio actively promote a DVD release within a movie’s theatrical campaign.
It’s kind of neat, actually. I like it when the industry shifts perceptibly. And I wonder how many people are seeing the TV spot, or noticing the date in the ad, and thinking about waiting.