On In Contention going to Variety

Posted by · 11:20 am · August 19th, 2015

On August 19, 2005, In Contention was born. (That was 10 years ago today for those keeping score at home.) It was born by accident, to be honest, not at all by design. I landed a gig, then I lost it before it even started, but I had all this material gathered and ready to publish regarding the then-upcoming film awards season. I launched a blog, “In Contention” sounded edgy enough in the space and off she went. (The funny thing is I ended up keeping the first gig after all, but by then this little enterprise had taken on a small life.)

From there it only grew. We moved out of the Blogger/Blogspot space and into the dot-com realm. We groomed a staff of like minds along the way, at one point notably large for such an outlet, but eventually honed into a tight ship that forged the In Contention identity. It became a remunerative enterprise, humming along in the bizarre but expanding niche world of awards coverage, separate from the independent movie blog ventures that were themselves gaining footing at the time (many of them, interestingly enough, unloading to buyers as of late).

When HitFix came calling in 2011, it was a fascinating fit. It was an exciting hybrid enterprise — yin and yang. Eventually In Contention was fully acquired by the company and things really settled. But times change. HitFix has new priorities now, and I wish them well. Thankfully the four years of content we produced under that banner will soon be available right here at InContention.com for posterity. That was important to me, that my work — Guy Lodge’s work, Gerard Kennedy’s work, Roth Cornet’s work, Greg Ellwood’s work — live under one umbrella.

But of further note to you, our readership, is that per the terms of that agreement, I am taking In Contention with me. So while all of the above was its own era, we’re now entering a very new one.

Truth be told, my heart has been with the Variety brand for a long time. Some of the first legitimate work I did in this business was under Steve Gaydos’ features department there, also nearly 10 years ago (after five years toiling away at this “hobby” on a wobbly Geocities platform and the like). We even tried to get the awards game together over there once upon a time with an ill-fated blog called Red Carpet District, you might recall.

As the years ticked on, I watched Hollywood’s most important trade wither under ownership that didn’t quite know how to survive in the online space and I fretted over its future. When Jay Penske bought the company in 2012, it was an overnight revival — a blood transfusion. The short-lived pay wall came down, a daily standard was retired in favor of a weekly print edition and in my corner of the universe, I was relieved.

So I can’t fully express how honored I am that I can take something that I built and give it a home at a 110-year-old institution. That is extraordinary. But that’s exactly what’s happening. In Contention is going to Variety, to provide a voice and an identity to the outlet’s awards coverage. It is my belief that Hollywood’s “showbiz bible” ought to own that space, and I aim to help them do just that.

Unfortunately, as part of this transition, we will be saying goodbye to Gerard Kennedy. For nine years, longer than anyone else, Gerard took a lot off my plate by sharing in an enthusiasm for below-the-line crafts coverage at In Contention. That was a crucial ingredient in the site’s success all these years, and indeed, I’m excited to engage with Variety’s own Artisans initiative focused on same. But as we bid one longstanding In Contention voice farewell, we welcome back another.

Guy Lodge left us for a Variety post in 2014 and I could not have been prouder of him. We enjoyed a front row seat to one of the best writers in the game growing into his voice for six years, but of course, bigger and better things were in his future. And Variety was smart to snatch him up. Naturally then, part of my pitch in all of this was that bringing him back to In Contention in some way would make all the sense in the world if we were going to live under the same roof (so to speak). As such, I’m happy to report that Guy will indeed engage with this community once again with a vital across-the-pond perspective and festival coverage pertinent to the beat. I am positively thrilled by that, and I imagine many of you will be, too.

So that is where we are as we turn the corner on 10 years of In Contention. I’m very much looking forward to joining Mr. Penske’s still-growing media empire and to carving out a unique and premier space within it, to collaborating with Co-Editors-in-Chief Claudia Eller and Andrew Wallenstein on growing a vital and historic brand, to working with Variety.com editor Stuart Oldham and his team in taking this asset to new heights, to partnering with my Co-Awards Editor Tim Gray and Deputy Awards and Features Editor Jenelle Riley in blowing out Variety’s awards coverage and, ultimately, to hitching my wagon back up to a company I called home years ago.

So keep an eye on Variety’s Contenders section for the big launch. Coverage will begin just ahead of the 42nd annual Telluride Film Festival and in earnest from the San Juans over Labor Day weekend, a little over a decade removed from In Contention’s earliest cry into cyberspace.

I look forward to seeing you all there.

UPDATE: And we’ve landed. Update your bookmarks.

→ 19 Comments Tags: , | Filed in: Uncategorized

19 responses so far

  • 1 8-19-2015 at 12:37 pm

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    Kris, I cannot tell you how happy I am for you (and for myself and other readers) that you’re back in business and moving on up to your new gig.

    In Contention has been an indispensable part of my life, and my filmgoing, since about 2007, and I look forward to many more years of coverage.

    Also, thank you for introducing the world to Guy Lodge. He’s just incredible. It’s thrilling that he’ll be back on board.

  • 2 8-19-2015 at 1:38 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Thanks Nicolas. Always great to hear from you.

  • 3 8-19-2015 at 1:40 pm

    Chris P. said...

    I remember “Red Carpet District” very well. At the time I found it odd that you would be running two similar blogs at once, but over the years I have noticed what the Variety brand means to you and why you must have been eager to join it back then already.

    So I’m glad things have worked out for you and that you can now join them full-time. That is great news for you and your readers. Congratulations!

  • 4 8-19-2015 at 4:53 pm

    Chris said...

    Very excited and thrilled for you! With everything that is happening in the online film community, it’s a relief to see your talents having a safe home.

  • 5 8-20-2015 at 2:04 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Chris and Chris: Much appreciated. It feels like a great fit and I’m ready to dig in (though certainly pleased with the delayed start for a change).

  • 6 8-20-2015 at 9:27 pm

    Mykill said...

    Absolutely wonderful news! I’m so happy for you Kris and your team! I knew you were destined for even bigger and better things and I’m excited to see it start to happen. I am also stoked to have your site back in my daily film info/awards coverage rotation as it hasn’t been the same the last few months without it. You guys rock!

    p.s. – I’m pumped that Guy Lodge will be back in some capacity with the site. The two of you were a pretty unstoppable combination and it’s exciting to have most of the old gang back again. :^)

  • 7 8-20-2015 at 9:47 pm

    Andrej said...

    Sad to see Gerard go. His super in-depth below-the-line insight was quite refreshing in the awards tracking community, since most outlets devote themselves to the “bigger” categories like acting and directing. I’ll miss him especially this time around, since Mad Max: Fury Road seems bound to dominate his categories, and it’d be interesting to read his highlights on each individual aspect of such an amazing looking film.

    But like you, I’m sure he’ll find himself a worthy outlet to discuss these things, should he want to still do so.

    As I’ve said before, can’t wait to see you and Guy at it again. Once more, congrats Kris!

  • 8 8-20-2015 at 10:21 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Mykill: Indeed, Guy being back on board is just fantastic. So pleased it worked out that way.

    Andrej: I can’t thank Gerard enough for digging in so thoroughly with that shared passion for crafts coverage. The media has sort of woken up to it around us over the last decade, too, which is wonderful to see.

  • 9 8-20-2015 at 11:49 pm

    Patrick said...

    I’ve been reading your work since the Oscar Central days (I’m still nostalgic for the MS Excel designed 4 row charts)
    since the 02 season, when your big get was Julian Fellowes. your track record since then has made the “It Will Not Happen” Diane Lane rant unforgettable, since you’ve been so good at the game since then. Along with Nate Rodgers over at The Film Experience, you have shaped my understanding of Film Awards as a yearly snapshot of American culture. The Oscar Talk years were great, your year at Awardsdaily (Then Oscarwatch) was fantastic as well, and you’ve championed 100s of movies I wouldn’t have gone near otherwise (Bolt?!, The Lovely Bones, Mary and Max, The Family Stone, New York Doll, Brick, Catch A Fire, Over The Hedge, Quiet City, In The Shadow Of The Moon)

    I’m so happy to see you joining this brand. In a weird way I feel like I’ve watched you grow up and I can count a lot of my major life milestones along your own. Its rare that a blog can do that.

    Given Oscar’s allegiance to Telluride, it stands to measure you’ll already have a review and pitch for the eventual Best Picture Winner up within a week of the blog’s relaunch.

    Until then, God is looking down from his Matter Of Life And Death style cloud smiling and asking “Is ‘Carol’ REALLY a frontrunner?”


  • 10 8-21-2015 at 12:20 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    That’s a special remembrance, Patrick. Thanks for it.

  • 11 8-21-2015 at 10:29 pm

    Dan K. said...

    Ah, I’m so thrilled that In Contention will be back online! And to have Guy back is quite a thrill. I must admit, I’ve sorely missed your voice these last few months over at Hitfix. The internet is not the same without your perspective on these things, at least for me.

    Can’t wait to put you back in the regular rotation.

  • 12 8-24-2015 at 9:50 am

    pitypie said...

    This is so lovely. Sad to see Gerard go, though thrilled that Guy will be back.

    I remember stumbling on IC back in maybe 2007 or 2008 and it not only got me interested in the awards season, but in film in general. The top 100 of the decade lists you and Guy both did were such a good starting point for someone who had never really been that in to film.

    Good luck going forward, IC team.

  • 13 8-27-2015 at 4:40 am

    Penguin88 said...

    Normally I do not write on these boards, but merely enjoy reading them. Don’t ask me why, I don’t really know myself.

    But in this case, I really, really, really felt that I must break this nonexistent rule to let you know how absolutely thrilled I am that “In Contention” has found a new home and that I will be able to read and enjoy all those well-written and extremely informative articles as I have done for the last couple of years. I firmly believe that you, Kris, as well as Guy have had a huge influence on my appreciation of movies and that you have greatly shaped my perception of that great game called “Awards Season” – and I am immensely grateful for that.

    Thus, I could NOT BE HAPPIER that Guy is back with you as well! Now the awards season can start. Now, it will not feel like there is something missing anymore as it has been for the last couple of months ever since he left (and imagine on top of that the first shock when you announced that IC would leave HitFix and I thought for a short moment that you might “retire” or something stupid like that…).

    I am looking forward to a wonderful season with you guys.

    Greetings from Germany

  • 14 8-27-2015 at 3:16 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Thanks for the thoughts, Penguin88! Hope you enjoy the coverage.

  • 15 8-29-2015 at 6:38 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    So this afternoon in Berlin I thought I’d Google “Kris Tapley” to see if there was any news about the In Contention, and the first thing I came across was the Variety article, which brought me back over here to the old site and this post.

    What a great welcome-home present (I get back to LA on Wednesday)! Congratulations on the return to Variety and the reunion with Mr. Lodge. FINALLY! Looking forward to your coverage of the upcoming awards season. ;-)

  • 16 9-01-2015 at 4:18 pm

    Tom M. said...

    Great news Kris. Unfortunately I’ve watched first-hand as Hitfix has destroyed its own brand in search of more and more clicks and I hope the few remaining worthwhile writers there can make a similar hasty retreat. But failing that, this is at least a step in the right direction. Looking forward to reading more of your keen insight.

  • 17 9-03-2015 at 6:48 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    FYI, guys, here’s the link to the new digs:


  • 18 9-03-2015 at 9:19 am

    Jj1 said...

    SO happy about this. Congratulations and best wishes. I’ll follow you and Guy anywhere you land :)

  • 19 9-17-2015 at 8:37 pm

    Derek 8-Track said...

    I should never skim. Somehow I missed that we’re saying goodbye to Gerard. Sad to see him go. Awards coverage just got a little less deep.