'Hurt Locker' producer breaks Academy rules with campaign email

A producer of The Hurt Locker is in hot water after sending out an email to Hollywood insiders encouraging them to vote for his film for the Best Picture Oscar — and disparaging Avatar in the process. Nicolas Chartier, who through his company Voltage Pictures helped with the financing for The Hurt Locker, composed an email, obtained by Pete Hammond over at The Envelope, encouraging Academy voters to spread the word about his film, saying that “if everyone tells one or two of their friends, we will win and not a $500M film.” Such an email is in violation of the Academy’s campaign rules. Now, Chartier (who is listed as one of the film’s four nominated producers alongside Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal) has sent a follow-up apology message, saying “My naivete, ignorance of the rules and plain stupidity as a first time nominee is not an excuse for this behavior and I strongly regret it.” The Academy has not announced what, if any, punishment it will impose on Chartier; one possibility is the loss of seats to the ceremony on March 7. Either way, the last week of the Oscar season just wouldn’t be the last week of the Oscar season without some campaign controversy.

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  • crispy

    As further punishment, he will be required to attend the Academy Awards dressed as a Na’vi alien in head-to-toe blue paint and a modest loin cloth.

    • Ambient Lite

      Excellent idea! I looked him up, he’s quite lanky and should be able to pull it off.
      I see you, rich braggy douchebag.

  • Shdrew

    Good Lord, this guy is a huge douche. I was already rooting against THL because I think the movie isn’t very good, but now I really hope it doesn’t win. Also, can you imagine the brouhaha that would errupt if James Cameron had sent out a message like this against THL?

    • Andrew Davidson

      I’m gonna disagree with you. I really enjoyed the Hurt Locker and am pulling for it over Avatar. And it wouldn’t be the same if James Cameron sent out a message like that because he is a director, not some no-name producer.

    • Mike

      Your either a mindless drone or a stupid girl if you didn’t like THL.

    • Candy

      I got more sleep during THL than any other movies I’ve ever seen.

  • Jane

    What Chartier did was incredibly tacky, desperate and stupid, but it is too late to make a difference in the race. If I was an academy member, I would put Hurt locker lower on my ballot because of the email.

  • Rob

    Which is why you shouldn’t be an Academy member Jane. No voter should let this influence his or her decision either way.

    • Jane

      No Rob. The email is against the Academy’s rules for a reason. It goes against the spirit of the awards. He should not be telling people to vote for his film because it is cheap while putting down the competition. So what if Avatar cost a lot of money? And you are a fool if you don’t think outside factors don’t affect the voting. Russell Crowe, anyone.

      • Danno

        I agree with Rob. Your vote should be to AWARD the best film not PUNISH one of its producers for having a lapse in judgement.

      • Jenny

        I agree with Rob too. The Oscars should reward the best film of the year regardless of anything else. The producer should be punished for breaking the rules (he should have known them) but the film should not.

      • Bijibadness

        yup, I’m with everybody else on this one. Just because ONE of the many people nominated for best picture is a douche and did something ridiculous like this has NO bearing WHATSOEVER on the quality of the film. Hurt Locker for the win!!

      • Nick B

        Jane, of course it’s true that outside factors influence the voting. But that doesn’t mean they should. The voting should be based purely on the quality of the films. And if anyone is going to change their votes because of something like this, it’s completely childish and unprofessional.

      • Jane

        @ Nick B

        Unprofessional? LOL. It is not that serious. Where was this kind of defense when people said they won’t vote for Eddie Murphy because of Norbit. It is very obvious that anyone who wants this issue to matter does not want to Hurt Locker to win. I gladly welcome any situation that can derail hurt locker. I would call myself passionate rather than childish. However, I know the general voting body will be put off by this but still vote for it and the part of the hurt locker fan base will agree with he said so Hurt locker is still going to win over 7 better movies.

  • John G.

    Sure what he did was stupid and wrong, but the Oscars are supposed to be about the quality of the movie, not the personalities of those involved.

  • Danno

    His punishment should be to have to watch that Showgirls 2 trailer that was posted on here yesterday Clockwork Orange style. Seriously it was so bad I couldn’t watch the whole thing.

    Seriously though, this was pretty dumb. But think about it. What’s the worst they can do to him. They can’t take away the nomination or votes. He might lose seats at the ceremony? OH NO NOT THAT!!! THL was likely going to win anyways. The race should be between THL and Inglorious Basterds. If Avatar wins it will be an absolute travesty. And the Oscars will be just as irrelevant an award as the Grammys are.

    • GoMe!

      If THL was going to win anyway, why did Chartier feel the need to write that stupid letter? No matter how you feel about the movies, this kind of campaigning is hurtful and stupid.

      Why cant these awards be about the QUALITY of the picture, not how you campaign.

      All I can say is this kind of stupidity, does not make we want to see the movie. So who really lost here?

      • Danno

        That was my point THL is the best movie nominated and was the odds on favorite to win before this guy had a brain fart. My other point was that if Avatar wins, the Oscars will officially be about just that campaigning and popularity rather than the actual quality of the movie. Ratings have dropped because of the number of times that the more popular movie has won out over the actual BEST movie too many times in the past 10-15 years.

      • Jane

        “Ratings have dropped because of the number of times that the more popular movie has won out over the actual BEST movie too many times in the past 10-15 years.”

        What are you talking about? Ratings have dropped because the popular movies have NOT been winning. There has been a disconnect with the oscars nominate and what the audience watch. That was the main problem with the ratings the year No country for old men. the nominees were not popular. Only Juno was a mild hit and we knew it was not going to win. The year Lord of the Rings won is one of the highest of the decade. The Titanic Oscar year was the most watched in the last two decades with almost 60 million viewers. Determining which movie is the “Best” movie is always debatable. i don’t think hurt locker is the “actual best” for the year but I agree it should be about who is the best of the year. However, your claim about the ratings going down because of popular movies winning is preposterous.

      • Pete

        Jane, what you appear to be describing as the ideal Oscar scenario would be nominating films exclusively using the Box Office Metric. This would reduce the award to nothing more than the People’s Choice Awards.

        Of course, No Country for Old Men according to Box Office Mojo made $74 million at the US Box Office and $162 million world wide. It’s not like it was some uber obscure film that was “rejected” by the crowd that would rather see Transformers 2.

      • Jane

        “what you appear to be describing as the ideal Oscar scenario would be nominating films exclusively using the Box Office Metric”
        Where did you get that idea from? I never implied anything like that. That’s completely off topic. My quote about who should win, “I agree it should be about who is the best of the year”. The point I brought up about popularity has to do with the ratings and not the nomination. You can’t deny the fact that the ratings are better when the winner or nominees are popular. The numbers don’t lie. I don’t think the public is expecting them to nominate Transformers or any other movie just because it is popular. The academy does their own thing and there are instances where the public agrees with them and they are more interested in the Oscars. As for no country for no men, I would say the Oscars boosted it’s box office take and not the other way around were NCFOM boosted the oscars ratings.

      • Pete

        Jane, I’m sorry but when you say

        “There has been a disconnect with the oscars nominate and what the audience watch. That was the main problem with the ratings the year No country for old men. the nominees were not popular.”, that would seem to indicate that Oscar nominations should primarily go to Box Office Champions in order to boost the ratings. No Country for Old Men had been in the theaters for nearly five months at the time it won Best Picture, so your idea that the Oscars themselves greatly boosted its take is also not supported by the facts.

        The other falsehood about the Oscars is that AMPAS is dependent on TV ratings in order to thrive. Frankly, the voters don’t really have a financial stake in the Oscar broadcast, and the idea that nominations should be made based on the Nielsen ratings is also kind of insulting (no you didn’t say it, but you seem to imply it with your argument).

        Maybe the Oscar nominations should have been given out to the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. Their recent Super Bowl was the highest rated show in television history.

      • Jane

        What is your problem? I responded to a specific claim by Danno about the ratings. Stop adding things I did not say. I said there is a disconnect between audience and the academy which shows in the ratings. And that’s a fact. I never said the academy needs to match the audience’s taste. You just added that part for some reason I don’t understand. Just because I point out the audience and academy don’t always see eye-to-eye, does NOT imply that I think they SHOULD for the academy to be relevant. Why would I agree with Danno the best film should win? It would boost ratings if they had more popular movies and that is a fact but you can’t show me where I said they should do that in favor of less popular good movies. I never said or implied NCFOM didn’t deserve the win or to be nominated. It is one of the better winners of the decade to me. I just said less people tuned in because it was not as popular with the public. I don’t think the ratings have anything to do with the members vote or the relevance of the awards and it bothers me that you are implying I do by corrupting my argument. The points I made about ratings were to discredit Danno’s comment on the ratings. I do not appreciate you twisting my comment and making it about who deserves the nomination when if you read the comments clearly, you would see I never made such claims.

      • dude

        @ Jane, I don’t 100% agree with you, but i see your point, you made a few valid ones. She doesn’t mean the movies with more box office that win increase the ratings, she means the films the average moviegoer preferred, what the ordinary people want to win, not the box office.

  • Liz

    This thing about calling Oscar/Academy Awards a “race” or a “campaign” makes people take the focus out of what’s really important: THE ARTS! That’s what the ceremony should be about, a celebration of the arts, and instead people talk about it like if it was a political rally, a race, a campaign. That’s the kind of talk that really gets to me and maybe the reason why ratings keep dropping. That sense of nasty competition is disgusting. I’m glad Mo’nique isn’t throwing herself around (like Clooney was doing back in December before Bridges took all of his heat) and she’s still going to win. There should be more people like her.

    • mike

      Aw yes. If only all performers, directors and producers behaved like Monique. It would put more attention on the actual work instead of who’s getting the best press. I think all nominees should refuse interviews from the moment the nominations are announced to the time the voting closes. I bet it would change the outcomes for the better.

    • lalala

      Um…when was Clooney “throwing himself around”? You mean December? When his film was opening, so he had to do press, just like every other star whose movie is opening? I didn’t see him “throwing himself around” telling people to vote for me me.

    • James

      If you think the Oscars are truly about the BEST, then you’re incredibly naive. It’s political and backstabbing and always has been.

  • B J

    This is no different than Weinstein and Cameron saying to pick THL for Director but vote for their film instead of Best Picture. And it will have no bearing on the race since a majority of ballots have already been sent and the deadline is Tuesday.

    • B J

      *for Best Picture, not of. Fail.

    • Anne

      Very good point, B J.

  • T

    Haven’t most ballots already been submitted?

  • Susan

    What he did was wrong, but let’s not punish the film and Kathryn Bigelow for his mistake.

  • Bret

    This guy really made a tacky move. But it doesn’t change the fact that “The Hurt Locker” was the best move of the year. Suck it Avatar fans most of you can’t tell a good movie if it hits you in the face. And most of you prob have not even seen “The Hurt Locker”!

    • codelemur

      I have seen Hurt Locker.

      Not only was it not the best film this year, it wasn’t even Kathryn Bigelow’s best film so far in her career. She didn’t get nearly enough respect for K-19.

  • sultry

    The guy is a douche. Incredibly tacky to badmouth Avatar too.

  • sultry

    Actually Avatar will be remembered long after the incredibly overrated Hurt Locker.

    • mike

      Good point. Avatar will be remembered and talked about more than THL for various reasons. However I don’t think years from now many will think THL unjustly won the oscar (if it does) over Avatar like people say that about some previous award seasons.

    • B J

      No. The film that uses the same technology but has better writing and acting will. Sorry.

  • Jheri Jones

    I have seen Avatar but not The Hurt Locker, which I trust is probably a superb film considering it’s nomination as the best of the year, but, in my opinion, and I have been following the Academy Award for over 50 years, this annual awards show is a spectacular desiged to promote the movie industry and is more of a popularity contest than a measure of true merit. There have been too many cases of great films and acting performances being overlooked or snubbed in favor of lesser film and lesser performances.

    • Suzanne

      THL was a really good film, but I was depressed at the end, I like leaving feeling good. I would vote Avatar or Up over THL any day. Why does no one take Up seriously? it, like Wall-E, is a great film.

    • Nix

      It was okay. Well-made, well-directed, well-acted. The plot and narrative were kind of implausible, but that isn’t a stumbling block for most people unaware of how bureaucratic and by-the-book the Army is.

      • Katie

        i agree. i saw the hurt locker and knew there was something about it that didnt feel quite right, and i think this is part of it. i didnt believe that the military would just let a dude do whatever he wants with explosives. i had a hard time believing the whole thing. it was more than that, but it was just overall okay.

  • Jeff

    What an idiot. People hate on success. Greed and envy can be an ugly thing in this business. On that note, I hope Karma bites them in the ass.

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