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The Oscars telecast hasn’t been a TV juggernaut for a long time now. Nearly a quarter century has elapsed since 57.25 million viewers tuned in to watch Titanic, for a good decade-plus the highest grossing movie in history (not adjusted for inflation), sweep up. By contrast, last year’s semi-awkward pandemic-era show, where the biggest trophies went to the comparatively little seen Nomadland, brought in a telecast-worst 10.4 million.
Tensions are no doubt high at ABC, which airs the ceremony, especially considering the highest grossing Best Picture nominee — Dune — “only” $107.9 million in North America (though was evidently widely seen enough on HBO Max that it was quickly awarded a sequel). That probably explains this: As per The Hollywood Reporter, the live show is going to nix about a third of the awards they have traditionally aired — eight out of the total 23. Those awards, of course, will still be given out. They’ll just be taped in the hour before the broadcast begins. Those awards also still be shown; they’ll simply peppered in throughout the show.
The nixed awards are a mix of the technical and semi-obscure, namely: documentary short, film editing, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live action short, and sound.
The Oscars aren’t the only awards show to not air certain trophies during the live broadcast. The Tonys do something similar. The Academy Awards have long insisted on airing all 23 awards, THR reports, “in order to keep the peace within its own board of governors, which includes representatives of the Academy’s 17 branches, most of which have at least one award which honors people from the profession practiced by its members and wants them to be treated the same as actors, directors and producers.”
That might also explain why some shows last longer than some of the epics that have taken home the prize in the past, such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gandhi, and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
So will this year’s Oscars be shorter? Possibly. Will it be seen as an insult to the talented filmmakers whose speeches will no doubt be diced up for broadcast (including editors)? Almost certainly. It will still take three (3) hosts to present it all, namely Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, and Wanda Sykes. The big show goes down on March 27 on ABC.