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Tonight at the newly renamed Hollywood and Highland Center, the Academy Awards will be delivering Oscar magic all night under the auspice of returning host Billy Crystal. The silent triumph of ‘The Artist’ is leading the buzz at the moment but until the cameras turn on inside the dazzling auditorium, the bets are on.
This year marks the 84th time around that Hollywood’s finest gather to celebrate the last years cinematic triumphs, but there has rarely been so much debacle before the big night; after years of faithful audiences, the ABC network reports a drop in recent years from a steady 60 to 70 million viewers to a mere 40 millions. In comparison, the Super Bowl finals could draw more than 110 millions viewers.
Another issue was the departure of producer Brett Ratner who left along with this years initially announced host, Eddie Murphy – not to mention the sudden and unfortunate bankruptcy of Eastman Kodak which brought on a complicated naming and promotional issue and jeopardizes the Academy’s continuous use of the facility for the Oscar show.
The biggest problem, though, is the dwindling number of viewers. Why have movie lovers forsaken the prestigious ceremony?
Some believe the major issue is that the general audience never really watches the movies that end up being celebrated by the contemporary Academy. In the last decade, the selected nominees have increasingly been influenced by art, emotions and indie productions; only few box office hits seem to cut it when it comes to Best Picture or leading performances – James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ being a notable exception.
The movies at this years Oscars are haunted by slow performances at the box office – The Artist, despite formidable reviews, only managed to make 28 million dollars, in comparison with ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ which raked a whopping 1,3 billion dollars last year.
As the general public see less and less of the nominated movies, their interest and excitement in the competition at the Oscar slumps. There is no fun in watching the celebration of movies you never heard of.
To compensate for the low level of recognizable names on the nomination list, the Academy have attempted to boost the entertainment quality of the event itself, including younger hosts, more comedy and more glamour. Last year’s double hosting by the sweet Anne Hathaway and spaced out James Franco was one of the low points of these initiatives so the return of Billy Crystal in a welcomed treat for Oscar buffs. Tonight makes his ninth time as Oscar host and the 63 year-old holds a great record as a terrific entertainer.
Despite the Academy’s struggle to get things in place for the night of the golden statue, millions of people worldwide will tune in tonight for the exquisite pleasure of watching the finest of Hollywood, gather in a media production extravaganza, including an ambitious slated performance of Cirque du Soleil in a one-time-only event by a rumored more than 50 performers, their biggest troupe ever.
Billy, we’re ready for you!
Image Courtesy of Bob D’Amico / ABC