Inevitably, The Film Awards Reckoning Has Arrived

Any half-conscious observer knew that Hollywood’s film awards business was as pointed a count as the audience. Oscar And other celebrations collapsed last year. i could too see it coming, on the cheap seats out here, nowhere near Union Station.

But now, eight months later, the inevitable settlement of accounts has come with a peculiar surprise. After all, there was no sudden shock, no open declaration of a new world order. No, the reckoning came crawling on cat’s paws, one step at a time, while for most of us what seemed like a normal season, but with the covid protocol and of course, with more streaming.

Yet here it is. The finely tuned contemporary rewards system that has reliably presented, honored and promoted challenging films since the late 1990s that could never have escaped the blockbuster competition without awards-American Beauty, No Country for Old Men, The Hurt Locker, 12 Years a Slave– It’s breaking.

Whatever will replace it, when the process is complete, there will be new rites, new rules and new economics. If the players, some of them, remain the same, it will only be because they, like everything else, have changed.

too dramatic?

imagine how easy golden globes disintegrated. What started as a media thrashing Hollywood Foreign Press Association—too white, too clubby, too self-serving — turned into an on-air reprimand by their own show hosts. Which led to the boycott. As a result, NBC suspended this year’s broadcast. If viewers had been upset with last year’s show — ratings were down 60 percent — all those angry campaigners and executives would have looked more compassionately at the HFPA’s promised reform. Instead, the group will hand out awards to the Globes from the (metaphorically) dog house on Sunday, celebrating the movies between the acts.

Another part of the system broke down more quietly, as ABC, in what appears to be a first, negotiated a reduction in the ‘guaranteed’ fee paid for the Oscars last year. You haven’t heard much about it: That’s because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, never particularly transparent, disclosed the cuts only last month in a vague note to bondholders on the Electronic Municipal Market Access website. “Such a one-time reduction is approximately 1.2% of the total minimum guaranteed revenue payable to the Academy, which shows under the Academy Awards under the current ABC contract from 2020 through and including 2028,” the filing explained. Translated into English, this means that domestic television rights to Oscar shows have dropped in price by $12.7 million, or about 11 percent of the guaranteed average of $117.2 million for each of the above contract years.

The note said the one-time cut was given due to April 25, the unusually late broadcast date of the Covid-hit ceremony. But an example has been set. Hollywood’s premium award show is selling at a discount. You can bet the parties will talk more cuts if the spectators don’t return.

On that score, early indicators are not promising. on September, Primetime Emmy Awards Viewers saw a growth of 16 percent, from an all-time low to 7.4 million. But the parallel increase for the Academy Awards will only increase viewership for the next show on March 27 to 12 million, almost half of the already shrunken count in early February of 2020 before the lockdown. Of course, it will also look good after only 2.15 million viewers watched ABC’s star-hit special, A Night at the Academy Museum, In October.

So the calculation continues. Film Academy, Chief Executive Officer don hudson has already said she would step down (a move that was anticipated before last year’s audience collapse). Look for a formal job this month, and look for new leadership soon thereafter. In theatres, older audiences—once a crucible for awards buzz—are still Covid-shy. Don’t look for seniors to support movies like story of the west or nightmare alley anytime soon. On the festival circuit, no amount of vaccine and testing can revive the missing crowd quickly Toronto, or missing everything in Palm Springs. When the viral cloud finally clears, our habits will have changed; They will never be exactly who they were.

For now, at least, the film awards business – what’s left of it after the latest round of Covid shutdowns – has grown into an internal game played by studios, promoters, talent, filmmakers and the media, whose outsiders are has little or no relation to. , People. It cannot continue. When the accounts are finally settled, a rebooted system with a new approach and a completely revised calendar of events and expectations will re-engage the audience.

Or the bounty game will be over. And the Academy, whose Oscars are the crown jewel of the current, deteriorating system, will become a trust fund dedicated to the continuing support of its museum, which used to lock contenders safely inside.