I didn’t want to write about here until I could verify that this was the case, and the Academy addressed the matter.
Both have now happened, with the Academy releasing a statement about the “non-invite” of the “Compton” cast: “The Academy invites the nominees only, and each studio gets a limited ticket allotment, based on the number of nominated films, to use at their discretion. It has been this way for decades,” the Academy statement says.
Universal, the studio that released “Compton” picked up a total of 4 Academy nominations this year, (including one for “Compton” for the film’s screenplay); so, given what the Academy says above, it’s ultimately Universal’s decision (not the Academy’s) on how it distributes the ticket allotment it receives from the Academy. We can assume that since they backed 4 different films that received nominations, they were allotted at least 4 invites, and had to then decide on who would get them. Obviously the “Compton” writers who are nominated (and are white), will use at least one of the invites.
As for the rest of Hollywood creatives who aren’t nominees and thus aren’t invited, I recall an older post on this blog in which Don Cheadle talked about past Oscars ceremonies that he didn’t really want to attend, but his wife wanted to and convinced him otherwise. He shared that in agreeing to go, he had to pay $500 per ticket.
Upon reading that item, I researched what he said, because, at the time, I wasn’t aware that celebrities had to buy tickets to attend the event. I figured if you were already a member of the Academy (every year, a new group of artists are invited to join), you were automatically free to attend the Oscars. Then again, the Dolby Theatre (previously known as the Kodak Theatre) only holds about 3400 total seats, so not all the 6,000+ members of the Academy can fit in it.
So, apparently, if you’re an Academy member, but you’re not one of the nominees, nor one of the presenters in any given year (or you’re not special enough – for example, I learned that there are certain legends of the screen who are given tickets to the event every year for free), you have to buy a ticket if you want to attend the event. And the cost of the ticket – at least as of 2013 – is $500.
It’s probably not a lot of money for many members of the Academy, so they pay the price and move on. But Cheadle didn’t seem too keen on paying that cost, especially to attend an event that he didn’t really want to attend that year.
But ticket sales alone, assuming a full house at the theater every year, and excluding nominees and presenters, generate about $1.5 million a year to the Academy.
I should note that the Academy also holds a lottery which members can participate in if they want tickets. But only a certain amount of tickets are allotted for that lottery.
For the average person, who’s not a member of the Academy, you’re not eligible to buy tickets. So if you see anyone scalping tickets online for the Oscars, they are likely not valid. And the Academy frowns on anyone buying and selling their tickets to others, at a premium.
The best way for the average person to attend is by either applying to be a seat-filler, or register for one of 600 bleacher seats. Or you join the Academy, which is virtually impossible for the average person who’s not in the business.
So there you have it – the case of the “Uninvited ‘Compton’ Cast” is now officially closed.