The Real Story Behind The Crash Win
Crash won Best Picture at the Academy Awards last night. Most people probably think it was due to the film's impressive cast, well written screenplay and crisp direction, combined with its left- leaning theme of tolerance, long a Hollywood favorite. But they would be wrong. For Crash owes it's remarkable success to one thing, and one thing only: Actors' deep-seated love of free stuff.
When Lion's Gate Films sent out 120,000 free copies of the Crash DVD- one to every SAG member- it soothed every fragile actor's ego in ways the film company could never have imagined. Consistently snubbed by theater chains because of the sheer size of the union, SAG members have for years been denied all the cool perks afforded Academy, Directors Guild and Writer's Guild members -namely Academy screeners and complimentary admission for two to most showings of first run movies. But the Crash freebie opened every actors' eyes to a real possibility - that if Crash did in fact go on and win top honors at the SAG Awards, then next year, every other nominated film would be forced to follow suit and, consequently, give all of us long suffering wannabes free movies. How do I know this? Because literally every actor I asked in the three weeks before the SAG Awards listed that exact scenario as their rationale for voting-"If Crash wins, we'll get five films next year."Well, to no SAG members' surprise, Crash won top honors at the SAG Awards, and in doing so, acquired some much needed momentum. Before the SAG Awards in late January, Brokeback Mountain was the prohibitive favorite, and Crash, released a good nine months earlier in April 2005, was a well received film that few people had seen. But after Crash blindsided Brokeback at the SAG Awards, everything changed. Suddenly, it seemed, there was a new kid in town, a gritty film that pulled no punches, addressed universal issues, and seemed like a viable alternative to "the gay cowboy movie,"which, secretly, a lot of actors were not thrilled with, for purely homophobic reasons. Add to this the sheer impact of 120,000 free copies in the hands of a grateful nation - many of them passed on to family and friends - and is it any wonder that in the month and change before the Oscars, the edgy ensemble drama was able to generate an incredible buzz? Crash should enjoy its win, but make no mistake-Lions Gate is responsible for one of the greatest marketing moves in movie history, one that without question netted them the Best Picture Oscar and, happily, the eternal gratitude of the working actor.