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The Oscars’ stimulus hopes
Why shunning Batman led to the doubling of the Best Picture nominations, and why that might not save the Oscars
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ext year’s Oscars will have double the Best Picture nominees, said Russ Britt in MarketWatch, because the out-of-touch “old folks” in the Academy couldn’t “get over the hump of nominating a film based on a comic-book character,” Batman. This “desperate” ploy is designed to boost the ever-sagging ratings of the Oscars telecast, but all the Academy has to do to get people to watch is nominate good, popular films like “The Dark Knight.”

The hope is to get more blockbusters nominated, said Chadwick Martin in Slate’s The Big Money. When “Titanic,” the top-earning film of all time, won Best Picture in 1997, 57 million people tuned in. When the No. 2 earner, “The Dark Knight,” was passed over, 36.3 million watched. Add in the $6.7 million boost a Best Picture nod brings a film, plus promotion and advertising outlays, and this is “Hollywood’s version of a stimulus package.”

The “marginal boost” a Best Picture nomination gives a studio, said Felix Salmon in Reuters, won’t make up for the “significant devaluation” of the award itself. With 10 films in contention, it could be even easier for the viewership-sinking “small and arty films” favored by the Academy to win, with as little as 15 percent of the vote. If the Academy is smart, this won’t last.

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