"Stars Wars: The Force Awakens" isn't going to win the National Board of Review's Best Film honors when the organization reveals its top ten list on Dec. 1, officially opening the Hollywood awards season.
That's because it won't be entered in that competition, and will likely sit out the other early awards shows, too. Disney and Lucasfilm believe keeping a lid on plot details of its blockbuster-to-be is more important than accumulating awards prior to its December 18 rollout in the U.S. and most of the world.
Consequently, it won't be in the running for the New York Film Critics Circle awards on Dec. 2, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association honors on Dec. 6 or the Screen Actors Guild Awards, for which nominations are announced on Dec. 9.
Disney declined comment for this story. But studio marketers have been carefully releasing details on the film in trailer drops and ads that have seeped out slowly. The videos have been devoured by click-hungry entertainment sites and fascinated super fans, fueling the already intense interest in the film. So it's not hard to see why keeping that secrecy up -- and foiling potential film pirates in the process -- makes sense for Disney, even if it means missing out on some trophies.
"No one who is thinking about seeing 'Star Wars' is waiting for the critics to weigh in on this film, whether with awards or with reviews, to decide whether to buy a ticket," said Marshall Fine, chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle. "This movie won't need awards to draw a crowd."
To be clear, "Star Wars" was not a lock, or even a favorite, to win the top honors. The National Board's choices are often off the grid -- last year's was "A Most Violent Year," which was a hit with critics groups, but not with the big awards shows. And effects-laden tentpole movies seldom get awards love anyway. Generally speaking, the critics groups tend to champion more obscure films than popular hits.
But the first new chapter in the iconic series in more than a decade is one of the year's biggest film stories, and will make a run at being the highest-grossing film ever. Awards often help smaller movies seize mainstream attention and can boost a film's box office; Disney and Lucasfilm's "The Force Awakens" doesn't need help on either of those fronts.
It's not unprecedented for holiday films to skip the early awards shows, often because they're still being worked on.
For example, it's uncertain whether Fox will get two of its awards hopefuls -- David O. Russell's "Joy" and "The Revenant" -- in front of critics before their Christmas Day debuts.
For years, Warner Bros. hustled to get Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movies in front of critics prior to their mid-December U.S. openings. But the popular sci-fi epics didn't make much of a splash.
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will be out in time for consideration for the Academy Awards. The nominees for the Oscars will be announced on Jan. 14, 2016.