This year's movie awards season has played out like Oscar night at Minsky's. At least a dozen of the supposedly hottest contenders -- among them "The Wrestler," from Fox Searchlight; "Milk," from Focus Features; and "Revolutionary Road," from Paramount Vantage and DreamWorks -- are being teased out to the public in peekaboo release patterns.
That approach became especially common this year, as studios held many of their more serious movies until after the election. They then found themselves crowding into a marketplace that made a slow rollout look like the safest pattern even for some films, like "Frost/Nixon," with big studios behind them. That sort of release is meant to build anticipation, by trading on good reviews and accumulating nominations from bellwether awards like the Golden Globes. It also allows a studio to hold back its big advertising buys until the audience is really ready to connect. But it can frustrate potential viewers who have been bombarded with information about movies they still cannot see.