The Oscars were Sunday night and a little-known movie named Precious that was bound for a “straight to DVD” release, came out the winner of two Oscars including Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). These two wins add to the 63 awards and 55 other nominations the film has already received.
Precious debuted in 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for best drama, as well as a Special Jury Prize for supporting actress Mo’Nique. Even after this successful debut, the film was doomed to end up on Blockbuster shelves instead of on the big screen. That was until two well-known celebrities—Oprah and Tyler Perry—got involved. With the help of their name recognition, Precious became the Oscar-winning film it is today.
What can we learn from the rise of Precious? PR works.
Precious was saved from a “straight to DVD” fate, won 65 awards and made over $50.8 million because of free publicity. The biggest advertising budget in the world couldn’t have done for Precious what Oprah and Tyler Perry were able to do: give publicity from highly recognizable and known celebrities to a film that no one had ever heard of. Oprah used her talk show to plug Precious and placed a link to the trailer on her website. Tyler Perry sent weekly e-blasts to millions of people through his official website. These simple acts didn’t cost the stars or the movie a dime but their powerful push is what catapulted Precious to what it has become today.
As a point of personal privilege, I’d like to take this opportunity to plug the Tallahassee Film Festival (TFF). Like the Sundance Film Festival, TFF screens independent films from around the world. And who knows, maybe one of this year’s films will become an Oscar award-winner and you can say you saw it when it was just the little film that could!