A fierce rainstorm hitting Beverly Hills late Saturday may dampen the Oscar hopes of two top contenders. The storm caused a power blackout that suddenly halted the showing of "Invictus" halfway through its screening at the theater in the academy's headquarters. "Nine" was supposed to follow it on the bill but was canceled.
Unfortunately, a final decision on whether the screenings would proceed wasn't made for hours while hundreds of academy members waited and waited, then gave up, stomping off in the rainstorm to head back home.
"Big blow for these two high-profile contending films!" one academy member told Gold Derby.
Another member skipped the "Invictus" screening that commenced at 4 p.m. and arrived to see the 8 p.m. showing of "Nine." He e-mailed us this report from his Blackberry: "So we get to the academy theater and the lady at the desk informs us that the power is out (and has been for three hours). In the darkened lobby, there are a few hundred Academy members milling about hoping the power comes back on."
The member said they got "out!!! And it's pouring rain. As we were driving away, all the people began departing in droves. Officially canceled! Somewhere Harvey is frowning."
Gold Derby contacted a top Oscar campaigner for the Weinstein Co. and asked her what she planned to do for "Nine" in response. She e-mailed us: "I'm going to book several big screening rooms a.s.a.p. and email acad members, take an ad -- oy vey -- something -- quick!"
The official screenings will be rescheduled but probably can't get choice weekend slots at the fully booked academy theater. They'll have to settle for weekday times. Those screenings are almost always poorly attended.
Luckily for Warner Bros., academy members received DVD screeners of "Invictus" last Friday. However, they have not yet received DVDs of "Nine." Here is a list of which DVDs voters have received so far and when they got them.
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Photos: "Invictus" (Warner Bros.), "Nine" (the Weinstein Co.)