Can “Black Panther” and Lady Gaga help save the Oscars?
The build-up to the Oscars has been a mess, after a ratings decline in 2018 that left organizers scrambling for possible solutions. But Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members could help out their beleaguered producers Tuesday by nominatinBy contrast, last year’s ratings sank to an all-time low of 26.5 million viewers, per Nielsen data — a drop of nearly 20% from the previous year, and way off from the more than 40 million the telecast attracted as recently as in 2013 and ’14.
Plenty has changed since then, including the sheer gravity of increased viewing options, a surplus of televised award shows, hostility toward Hollywood’s left-leaning politics (perhaps especially post-2001) and the realization that every big moment will be available online, reducing the imperative to tune in live.
Still, at least part of the problem from a ratings standpoint has been a shift away from more popular movies that combined big box office with prestige — like “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” crowned in 2004 — to more niche-oriented titles, including recent winners (going back in sequence) “The Shape of Water,” “Moonlight,” “Spotlight” and “Birdman.”g more high-profile films that might help attract a bigger audience.
The relationship between Academy Award nominees and ratings is hardly an exact science, but there’s at least some evidence that indicates recognizing more movies that viewers have actually seen is a boon — a dynamic that reached its high-water mark with “Titanic,” which drew a record 55 million viewers to the telecast in 1998.
The belief that the Oscars were becoming too narrow in their selections — especially in an age where studios increasingly rely on comic book and fantasy blockbusters — informed the proposal to introduce a “popular film” category.
The academy (and host network ABC, which has reportedly pushed for changes) faced an immediate backlash to the concept, but haven’t completely backed away from the need to add more inviting elements, without transforming the Oscars into the People’s Choice Awards.