The new Oscar math

By Felix Salmon
June 29, 2009

David Carr nails the financial implications of doubling the number of Best Picture nominees at the Oscars. It’s bad for the studios — which will now have even more films to market to the Academy in the hope of winning the award; it’s good for media outlets like Variety which get a lot of those marketing dollars; and it’s something of a wash for viewers:

Americans have tuned out the Oscars not because “The Dark Knight” didn’t get a nomination, but because the telecast is jammed with obscure awards that they have no say over — this isn’t “American Idol” — and no rooting interest in. What the Oscars need is fewer awards, not more nominees. As long as we are doing the math, does the academy really need three awards for short films and two separate awards for sound?

It is a bit weird that Hollywood types are “livid” about this move — one would think that they’re powerful enough to have prevented it from happening. In any event, they’re surely powerful enough to roll it back if and when it proves a dud. I give this experiment one year, three at the most.

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