An Oscars Comeback? How the Film Academy Went Global and Found Its Footing Again


Actress Meryl Streep holding her Oscar award, for the film 'Kramer vs Kramer' and being kissed on the neck by co-star Dustin Hoffman, at the 52nd Academy Awards, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Hollywood, CA, April 14th 1980. (Photo by Archive Ph

...Engaging More With The Public

There has also been substantial focus on engaging the public through social media, often drawing on the academy's vast archival material – whether that be vintage acceptance speeches or just memorable moments from Oscars past.

Their Instagram account is close to 4 million followers and their YouTube channel is a treasure trove of fun clips: Leonardo DiCaprio's best actor win (54 million views), Hugh Jackman's 2009 opening number (23 million views), Chris Rock's opening monologue (16 million views), Jack Black and Will Ferrell singing "Get Off the Stage" (15 million views), and Fred Astaire dancing at the 1970 Oscars (13 million views).

The interest in movie history has also driven enthusiasm around the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, which houses more than 23 million items of memorabilia, and has hosted exhibitions on everything from Hayao Miyazaki and the history of Black Cinema to "The Godfather" and the films of John Waters. Kramer noted that about half of the ticket buyers are under the age of 40.

But it's not just about relics: Short videos they've made spotlighting below-the-line categories in the lead-up to the Oscars have also taken off. One about visual effects from last year has over 4 million views. They're rolling out similar shorts for this year's nominees soon too.

In this handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S. Jane Fonda poses with the Best Picture envelope backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Richard Harbaugh - Handout/A.M.P.A.S

The Academy's Future

All of this plays into a different way of looking at the Oscars and the academy's place in the culture.

"It's important that we think about: How do we change our metric of success? We want millions and millions of people around the world to watch the show the night of, but we also want people watching it for many days after the initial run and on social in perpetuity," Kramer said. "This is evergreen programming. And people overseas, outside of the U.S., engage with the show in a lot of different ways."

All of these conversations will continue about the future of the industry, the academy, its membership, and, Yang said, even "weaning" the Oscars from ABC in a few years (the current contract runs through 2028). For both, one of the most satisfying experiences was the overwhelmingly positive response to the addition of an award for casting directors – something that had been discussed for decades – but was finally voted in this year.

"I think people feel gratified knowing that we can change. The reputation of the past was, you know, it was a little stodgy," Yang said. "It's been an entrepreneurial experience while maintaining the legacy of this very, very revered institution."

And they hope the academy will stay at the center of it all.

"Business models are changing. The way people are engaging with movies and arts is changing. And the academy is really at the center of that conversation for the film community," Kramer added. "We have a great responsibility to think this through and to ensure that the academy has a successful second 100 years."

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