Paramount's winter release of the film Nebraska neatly mirrors the characters, and actors, who are all in the winter of their lives. But as Deadline Hollywood recently pointed out, Paramount's ad for the film is the first time any studio has openly trumpeted the advanced age of the film's stars. Bruce Dern, it seems, has finally got the role of his career (and serious Best Actor Oscar buzz) at 77. And he's young compared to his co-star June Squibb, who's 86.
The interesting thing about this spot is this; while it seems like a commercial aimed at the mature movie goer, its running primarily in L.A. and New York, where the studio hopes to influence Academy Awards voters. This commercial is the last step in a very carefully orchestrated release—beginning with a premiere at Cannes—calculated to influence Academy voters. (It's hard to believe that studios would take out television ads when the real target audience is so small and easily reached by direct marketing methods, but it is what it is. Studios do send screener copies of films to potential awards voters, organize invitation only viewings, etc., but TV ads catch voters where they live, and influence voters friends, too.)
Why does focusing on the actors' ages play well with that specialized, narrow audience? Because the median age of voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is 62. Only 14% of voting members are under 50.