Boots Riley Explains ‘Sorry to Bother You’ Oscars Snub

Sorry to Bother You (Credit: Annapurna)

When Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross announced the Oscar nominations Tuesday, Sorry to Bother You was never mentioned and the film’s writer-director says there’s a reason.

Boots Riley took to Twitter after the nominations were announced to tell angry fans why his critically acclaimed film was likely snubbed.

“The largest factor as to why we didn’t get nominated is that we didn’t actually run a campaign,” Riley explained. “We didn’t buy For Your Consideration ads in the trade magazines and we didn’t service the whole academy with screeners.”

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Boots Riley 10Th Annual Governors Awards in Hollywood on November 18, 2018. (Credit: Deposit Photos)
Boots Riley wrote and directed “Sorry to Bother You.” (Credit: Deposit Photos)

What he means is that the team behind the film didn’t launch a big Oscars campaign that traditionally includes mailing DVD screeners to the Academy’s 7,902 members, hosting glitzy industry parties and buying “For Your Consideration” ads in the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood trades.

Much like in politics, film production teams launch expensive awards campaigns to woo guild members and Oscar voters.

In an article published Wednesday, Variety (one of the Hollywood trades) said movie studios are spending a record amount this year to impress Oscar voters.

“Oscar campaign budgets for films seeking nominations in multiple categories, such as A Star Is Born, Roma and First Man, can run from $20 million to $30 million,” the publication noted.

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That’s a hefty price, especially for an indie film like Sorry to Bother You.

Since the social satire starring Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson was released in July, it’s made $17.9 million at the box office. That’s definitely impressive when you consider the film’s reported $3 million production budget, but a $30 million Oscar campaign would be highly unlikely.

Still, Riley said his team did hold several press screenings and red carpets events to get the word out about the film.

While Sorry to Bother You won’t win any Oscars, it has picked up several awards from critics groups and is in the running for two Independent Spirit Awards. Earlier this month, Riley also received a best directorial debut nomination from the Directors Guild of America.

You can check out the director’s tweets below.