The Academy president David Rubin sent an email on Tuesday to Academy members detailing the reasons why the Oscar show is prioritizing the global audience this year, even after listening to complaints from their members. In other words, the Academy is catering to the demands of producing a commercial show for ABC. Getting out of the ratings toilet is the first order of business, so eight awards will be given out from the Dolby Theatre stage in the hour before the show, and will be announced during the kudocast, but not presented live, “folded seamlessly into the live televised show.”
Pressure has been on the Academy, after the ratings debacle of the pandemic Oscars last year, to lure audiences back with attractive hosts (the trio of Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall) and an entertaining, fast-paced, three-hour show. The time it takes to watch a line of craftspeople respected inside the industry but unknown to the public walk up to the stage to collect their Oscars has been an issue for anxious Oscar producers for years. In 2019 the Academy threatened to move four category presentations to the commercial breaks, but backed down under protest.
Rubin promises that every award winner will be recognized on the broadcast, and that the Academy will see how the whole thing goes and reevaluate for next year. Here’s the letter:
Dear Fellow Academy Members,
We’re excited to present a 94th Oscars broadcast that both honors the year’s achievements in motion pictures and provides boundless entertainment for our global audience of movie lovers. After carefully listening to feedback and suggestions from our film community, our network partner, and all those who love the Oscars, it was evident we needed to make some decisions about the broadcast that are in the best interest of the future of our show and our organization.
When deciding how to produce the Oscars, we recognize it’s a live event television show and we must prioritize the television audience to increase viewer engagement and keep the show vital, kinetic, and relevant. This has been an important focus of discussion for quite some time. We do this while also remembering the importance of having our nominees relish a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
In order to provide more time and opportunity for audience entertainment and engagement through comedy, musical numbers, film clip packages and movie tributes, a change in the show’s production will take place. This year’s show producers and Academy leadership with oversight of the Oscars have made the decision, with endorsement from the officers and the Awards Committee, that every awards category must be featured on the television broadcast, though eight awards will initially be presented in the Dolby Theatre in the hour before the live broadcast begins.
They will not be presented in the pre-show nor on the red carpet, as some have speculated. Instead, the in-person ceremony at the Dolby Theatre will begin one hour earlier to present eight awards categories before the live telecast starts. Those presentations will then be edited by our creative and production teams and will be folded seamlessly into the live televised show.
To be clear, all the nominees in ALL awards categories will be identified on air and ALL winners’ acceptance speeches will be featured on the live broadcast. Every awarded filmmaker and artist in every category will still have the celebratory ‘Oscar moment’ they deserve on the stage of the Dolby, facing an enrapt audience.
For the audience at home, the show’s flow does not change, though it will become tighter and more electric with this new cadence, and the live broadcast should end – yes, with the Best Picture category – at the three-hour mark.
This year, those categories presented in the evening’s first hour and seen later in the live broadcast are, alphabetically: Documentary (Short Subject), Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Short Film (Animated), Short Film (Live Action), and Sound.
The categories to be presented live on this year’s broadcast are, alphabetically: Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Animated Feature Film, Best Picture, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Documentary (Feature), International Feature Film, Music (Original Song), Visual Effects, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and Writing (Original Screenplay).
We realize these kinds of changes can prompt concern about equity, and we ask you to understand our goal has been to find a balance in which nominees, winners, members, and viewing audience all have a rewarding show experience. Moving forward we will assess this change and will continue to look for additional ways to make our show more entertaining and more thrilling for all involved, inside the Dolby Theatre and watching from home.
Every Academy branch and award category is indispensable to the success of a film and vital to this industry. Both our challenge and our goal is to create an exciting, streamlined Oscars show without sacrificing the long-held fundamentals of our organization. We appreciate your understanding and will be grateful for your unwavering support.