It’s time again for pundits to bemoan the poor television ratings of the long, boring Academy Awards show, which features movies, which, unless one lives in New York City or Los Angeles, most Americans did not see.
In 1998, when Titanic, the top moneymaker of all time, won Best Picture, there were 50+ million viewers. By 2013, there were 40 million viewers. Hispanic- and African-Americans, who make up an increasing percentage of the moviegoers will not find much representation or reasons to watch this year. The popular animated film—The Lego Movie—was not even nominated. Some cynics predict American Sniper will not win Best Picture this year because it made so much money.
How to get more people interested in the Oscars? Movie theaters in Phoenix are trying marathon showings to give Phoenicians a chance to see all those nominated movies.
Harkins Theatres, a local chain known for showing documentaries and foreign films, showed the Oscar-nominated Animated and Live Action Shorts. Attendees were pleasantly surprised by the twists of the two-minute-long A Single Life or Footprints. They could laugh at Me and My Mouton or cry at The Dam Keeper. There was the traditional Disney short, Feast, or the odd The Bigger Picture, which looked like an Impressionist painting come to life. The live action shorts, which ranged from the amusing Boogaloo and Graham (a movie about coming of age with pet chickens) to the suspenseful The Phone Call, were all moving. Harkins also showed the nominated documentaries.
AMC joined the fun, showing the Shorts. AMC, also, had a 2 Day Best Picture Showcase with nominated Best Pictures The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash, Birdman and Selma shown on February 14, and the Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game and American Sniper shown today, just in time for the Oscar ceremonies on Sunday, February 22. The showings were accompanied by souvenir lanyards and trivia contests for attendees. Fans, like nurse Donna Gleason, enjoyed the day off : “I got to catch up on the movies I haven’t had time to see.”
While still only a small portion of the movie-going audience is reached by these efforts, it is a start in regenerating interest (as well as revenue for local theatres) in the Awards. Maybe in the future, a pay-per-view system will allow everyone an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about in Hollywood on Oscar night.