Fox Searchlight is going to have to figure out a way to not make Slumdog Millionaire seem like LittleMissJunoaire. Already, people are saying it’s this year’s Juno and that has to be because it was picked up by Fox Searchlight, the same studio that brought the little-indies-that-could to the Best Picture table. Is that what Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire is? I don’t think so. It will all be a matter of how they advertise it. If they use the same bright colors they used for Sunshine and Juno it will be a gamble on the idea that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Will that indie-that-could slot be forever called the Searchlight slot if Slumdog follows the same pattern of advertising? The frustrating thing is that once a film is thrust into that spotlight it is immediately hated by the chattering class and verges on overexposure with voting members (though someone is bound to win at least one Oscar, most likely screenplay!).
But both Sunshine and Juno were too popular for their own good. They made a lot of money but they were also “heartland tales gone wrong,” meaning, they could be re-titled Quirky America Stumbles Along. Slumdog is different; it is hardly American, though love stories like this are universal. Some have said it’s Dickensian. It is also not some upstart director from out of nowhere but a near-veteran who has never been anywhere near Oscar consideration before but has made some unforgettable films like Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Millions. I suppose I am writing this because I don’t want to see Danny Boyle given the harsh treatment like those who came before him. Frankly, no matter what the ad campaign, he doesn’t deserve it and the film doesn’t deserve it. I really hope that people try to remember that as we wade through the big muddy.
I will be curious to see how Searchlight handles this. Obviously they know what they’re doing as their little-movies-that-could made a boatload of coin.
By the way, that Slumdog above is the poster, not the Oscar campaign.