Sony hopes Facebook film befriends fans and Oscar

Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:28am EDT
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By Kim Masters

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Sony is starting to show the face of "The Social Network," the saga of the founding of Facebook and one of the most buzzed-about films of the season.

The studio has started to screen it, beginning with a select list of friendly journalists. No surprise there.

At the same time, it is positioning the film for Oscar. Along with reporters from fan sites, the guest list at screenings includes awards bloggers.

Sony wants it all for director David Fincher's October 1 release: commercial results and artistic recognition. The studio declines to discuss the carefully orchestrated marketing campaign for the film, but clearly it's chasing the young audience, with spots on MTV emphasizing partying, bling and Justin Timberlake. For older audiences, it's being spun more as "Wall Street," with heavy reliance on quotes from positive reviews.

"I think there is heat on the movie and it's going to work," said a distribution executive at a rival studio.

Sony will need it to work commercially if it wants to be a contender in the awards race, according to one veteran consultant (who hasn't seen the film). Unlike a modest movie like "Hurt Locker," "Social Network" -- with its high-end pedigree and a budget of $40 million or more -- will need commercial traction to engage the Academy.

"The sucker can't bomb," this campaigner said. "It's about Facebook -- about something that has permeated all levels of our culture. ... If it doesn't do business, it failed. It can't come out and tank when everyone knows there's an audience for it. There's nothing worse than promoting a film within the Academy that failed to do what it was supposed to do."

So far, the early reviews on the movie fan sites are positive. Slashfilm raved. called it "absorbing and hilarious and smart."   Continued...