Do studios have to campaign for Oscars for certain actors? I'm just wondering how much of Natalie Portman's or Colin Firth's Oscar buzz may come from the fine print in a contract.
—M.M.C., via the inbox
It's a fine conspiracy, as such theories go. If that were the case though, one would hope that Firth and his team would have a bit more say over the consideration ads for The King's Speech. ("Some movies you see, others you feel"? Really?) So here's what I can tell you ...
... disappointingly, the answer is probably no. Nobody, likely, forced the Black Swan people to campaign on behalf of Portman, just like there was no real stage mommy forcing her to lose 20 pounds by dining on air and anxiety for months and months before principle shooting.
"Actors' contracts rarely if ever specifically require that a producer promote an actor for an award," Liner Grode attorney Michael Novicoff tells me. "Although financial bonuses for awards and nominations are common."
Bonuses, you say? Yep. The range is way wide, but don't be shocked if it's in the four or even five figures—which is what studio executives can earn in the wake of the same achievement, according to industry rags.
Still, suits face plenty of unofficial pressure to make A-listers like Portman happy—a pressure as tangible as a contract, in some cases.
"An actor whose performance has been well received by critics and the public has a lot of leverage to encourage a promotional campaign at that time," Novicoff says. "Because, by that point, producers may want extra help with publicity—beyond what the original contract may have required—and of course also wants good relations with successful talent to help with future projects as well."
And based on what we saw in Black Swan, you really don't want to mess with Natalie Portman.