Lowest rated Oscar telecast

posted by ceasar on February 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

In what has been an ongoing trend these days, the Oscar telecast last weekend was the lowest rated ever. With no huge studio pictures up for the majors and a slew of little-known actors up as favorites in key categories, it was the perfect recipe for average moviegoer dissent.

Films about psychopaths, greedy oilmen and corrupt lawyers failed to click with moviegoers, and they proved a turnoff to U.S. television viewers as this year’s Oscars show hit record low ratings.

The 80th anniversary edition of the Academy Awards, dominated by European stars and films that played poorly at the box office, averaged 32 million viewers, entering the record books on Monday as the least watched Oscar telecast ever.

Read more in the Washington Post.

(Thanks to Grebo Guru for providing the photo.)

Comments (45)

Eric on February 29, 2008 at 11:36 am

It was exposed to me what a fake phony award show it is in 2006 when best picture was given to Crash instead of Brokeback Mountain. The award is not based on merit. It’s a phony popularity contest. I will never watch it again and could care less about it going forward.

ceasar on February 29, 2008 at 11:56 am

Now the criticism against the Motion Picture Academy is the fact that most of the Oscar nominated films aren’t seen by most of the movie going public. Becouse of limited releases in metromarkets and distrubtion issues, PR issues most of the films that were nominated like Antonement aren’t seen. And another fact I learned that some cinemas often scheldule like one showtime. Which hurts the film at box office.
I like the fact it’s called a fake popularity contest. But the criticism on the films not being seen is growing.

HowardBHaas on February 29, 2008 at 12:06 pm

I just googled “metromarket” but it is not a word.

What do you mean “some cinemas often schedule like one showtime” Please link to a website of a cinema doing such with a film in its 1st week of issue.

monika on February 29, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Though I completely agree with EricHooper that “Brokeback Mountain” should have taken the Best Picture prize in 2006 (hell, anything but “Crash”!), and though I thought I’d pass out when I saw that they had Beyonce performing the nominated song from “The Chorus”, a film about a boys school choir, Oscar Sunday is in our house what Superbowl Sunday is in many others. We get set up in front of the tv with food, drink, and ballots and do our very best to enjoy it. Though I disagree with some of the Academy’s choices, I also strongly agree with others, and enjoy watching the show each year… even if I do come out disappointed in the end. I didn’t think this years' show was so awful, in fact it was probably my favorite of the last 4 or so years.

ceasar on February 29, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Now I watch the oscars off and on. What made it interesting this year they were trying to heal over the fact of the Writer’s Strike. Back in January the Writer’s Strike cancelled the Golden Globes. But the writer’s got thier point across. Even ABC was low key in advertisting the oscars telecast. Beside the oscars being low in the neilsons,so was the Barbara Walter’s Special prior to the telecast.

efriedmann on February 29, 2008 at 12:45 pm

I stopped watching the Oscars several years ago because I became fed up with its level of cheesy entertainment, which in my opinion, is no better than a vintage episode of the Donny & Marie variety show or a common beauty pageant. Now I only tune in to the last ten minutes to see what wins best picture.

But, to be fair, the films that the Academy often nominates for best picture are intelligently-scripted stories with solid performances by its players. Most people don’t want to bother with films like this in which (heaven forbid!) they might have to use a little bit of their brain to enjoy. Why is only films with no storyline, bad acting and loads of CGI effects can be deemed as “entertaining”. This decade alone, three films that entertained me the most were MEMENTO, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and SIDEWAYS; all inventive, original scripts with great acting and dialogue. Why is that not entertaining?

I also feel that many people do not see many of the best picture nominees because they don’t have much time between the time a picture is nominated and the night the awards are presented. Remember, the Oscars were once televised in late March. People had about an extra month to get out and see best picture-nominated films. I saw MICHAEL CLAYTON back in October, but since the nominees were released, the only other film I had time to see was NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, which I loved. I’m glad it won best picture of 2007.

Finally, I say this – if people want to see garbage like TRANSFORMERS and SPIDERMAN 3 receive award nominations, they should just watch the People’s Choice Awards or the MTV Movie Awards or something stupid like that. The Academy (thankfully) still chooses films that are (usually) about something.

efriedmann on February 29, 2008 at 12:50 pm

I also occurs to me than even some big budget, blockbuster films that have been nominated for best picture in the past (THE EXORCIST, THE TOWERING INFERNO, JAWS, STAR WARS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, E.T., THE FUGITIVE) I would certainly consider better-written and better-acted motion pictures than what is released on the screen as a blockbuster today.

ceasar on February 29, 2008 at 12:57 pm

I happen to agree. For example I’m looking forward to the new Indiana Jones when it comes out in May.

efriedmann on February 29, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Ceasar, the next INDIANA JONES movie presents a mild dilema for me. I swore some time ago that I was through wasting my time and money on sequels, remakes and franchise films. On the other hand, Steven Spielberg carries a great deal of weight with me, so I am likely to weaken this summer and see the movie. I just hope it’s better written and acted than TEMPLE OF DOOM. I hated that one!

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on February 29, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Typical Washington Compost commentary.

moviebuff82 on February 29, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Can’t wait to see if Indy wins best picture for Mr. Speilberg, who hasn’t won an oscar in 15 years!!! If he wins, then ratings will skyrocket from this year.

DonSolosan on February 29, 2008 at 2:41 pm

The Oscars have always been about Hollywood recognizing its own — it is not and has never been an objective measure of the films' artistic worth.

moviebuff82 on February 29, 2008 at 2:50 pm

I agree. The only awards shows that communicates with the moviegoing public are the people’s choice awards as well as the MTV movie awards. Not too long ago Blockbuster had an awards show but they pulled out to focus on renting movies.

efriedmann on February 29, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Golden Globes, People’s Choice Awards, MTV Movie Awards, Blockbuster Movie Awards…give me a break!!!

Fact is, how many of you can actually remember what won best picture for ANY of the awards listed above without looking it up?? It’s the Oscar awards that innevitably goes down in film history, not the others.

If we all know that, say, PLATOON won for best picture of 1986, do we remember what won the Golden Globe for that same year (again, without looking it up)? Do we really care?

I say just four (4) awards shows, period…

  • OSCARS for all movies
  • EMMYS for all television
  • GRAMMYS for all music
  • TONYS for all theater

…and that’s it!

DonSolosan on February 29, 2008 at 4:11 pm

If the Oscar serves the motion picture community, then each of these other awards can be seen to have a similar function. Golden Globes serves the foreign press, People’s Choice and MTV serve the general public. They allow lots of people to take part in celebrating something they love: movies. Isn’t that a good thing?

JodarMovieFan on February 29, 2008 at 4:36 pm

The reporting pretty much says it all. The movies weren’t as great or memorable as in years past. As far as the host, I’m not much of a Jon Stewart fan even though many Gen X, Y and Z-ers seem to get their news from his daily show. I, for one, do not. I don’t think he’s that funny, witty or in the same league as in prior years' hosts such as Billy Crystal or the late Johnny Carson. And to think, I wasted three hours watching that show where one could have gotten a colonoscopy, read War and Peace, finished my will, changed the oil and filters in my cars and had a nice seven-course meal… :)

moviebuff82 on February 29, 2008 at 4:39 pm

I flipped between that show and a rangers hockey game. Rangers won, Oscars lost.

efriedmann on February 29, 2008 at 4:47 pm

I watched Steven Spielberg’s EMPIRE OF THE SUN on dvd.

moviebuff82 on February 29, 2008 at 5:05 pm

That’s a good movie, although it was one of Spielberg’s few box office bombs. But it was the debut of a rising star: Christian Bale, who this summer returns as Batman in “The Dark Knight”, starring the late Heath Ledger as “The Joker”.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on February 29, 2008 at 5:29 pm

And to think that I foolishly took the day off from work to watch a poorer version of last year’s re-hash of the year before! Next year I shall tune in to see how flies mate!

Coate on February 29, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Justin… Spielberg won a Best Director Oscar for “Saving Private Ryan” nine years ago. I think what you probably meant to write was that a Spielberg-directed film has not won a Best Picture Oscar in fifteen years.

moviebuff82 on February 29, 2008 at 6:28 pm

oh….I’d love to see Spielberg win a best picture, best screenplay, and best director trophy.

JSA on February 29, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Humm, greed, corruption and psycopaths as Oscar-nominated fare. Sound like 1974 all over again: “Chinatown”, “The Conversation”, and “Godfather II”…


jimpiscitelli on March 1, 2008 at 12:09 am

The Oscars have been low rated for the last several years. To me watching the Oscars is like watching the Super Bowl for the others. This years Oscars was no suprise to me. I knew that Marion Collard was going to win Best Actress Oscar for her role as Edith Piaf in “La Vie En Rose”. I missed it in theatres but watched it on DVD.

TheaterBuff1 on March 1, 2008 at 2:44 am

I, for one, was happy just to see the Oscars air at all, given the threat being posed to it by the writers' strike several weeks before. And all this criticism of this year’s Oscars going on here, if you ask me, is just another classic case of blaming the victim. Could any of you doing all this criticizing do better than than those who you’re putting down so readily? To answer that question for you, in many instances the answer is likely yes — IF ONLY it WASN’T for certain big obstacles in the way, number one being the extremely bad refereeing going on right now. And if you can grasp that, well, guess what; it’s the same obstacles that those who you’re criticizing are up against. But at least in their case they were able to make some headway despite it. Which is more than the rest of us out here can claim.

And who is it that’s doing the bad referreeing? Well, in many instances it is we ourselves. On the other hand, not to come down to hard on us, some of you might’ve noticed that the American government is not functioning right these days. Too often now, in many instances now it’s become quite standard, regulatory decisions are based not on order of law, fairness and reason, but upon prejudices, jealousies and whims. This, in turn, makes it very hard, in some cases impossible, for those in the film industry to be fully truthful and objective. While on the one hand they might succeed in getting that far so far as producing a truthful and objective film itself, but beyond that there have to be the theaters and other outlets where such films will be seen. Where they can be seen. Otherwise, what good is such a film?

Because of the way politics is in much of America now, theaters are under great restraints in terms of what they can and cannot exhibit, lest they have the carpet pulled out from under them, which so many theaters throughout America already have seen happen. And all other outlets are under similar restraints. Yes, even the Internet. And unfortunately the film industry is not 100% immune to that, as much as many of us would still like to believe it is. And the restraints are NOT based on order of law or reason, but on the character flaws of those doing the restraining.

And it is through this unreasonable filtering process that those who put on the Oscars each year have to weave through to put on an at least half decent show. And this year the challenge they faced I liken to that scene in THE SOUND OF MUSIC when the Trapp Family Singers were called upon to perform for those German officers.

My big disappointment this year was that there were not any unplanned-for Michael Moore type outbursts, which to me is a must-have if the Oscar Presentations are to truly be great. Hopefully, future Oscars Presentations will have those once again.

LawMann on March 1, 2008 at 9:31 pm

The show is as phony as the KODAK theatre. Bring the show back to the historical Shrine Auditorium or even the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on March 2, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Egad, Sir! I must mount my silver steed and gallop to the defense of the Kodak Theatre, which I like and do not think is “phony”.

DonSolosan on March 2, 2008 at 2:07 pm

No, it sounds as if the place is made out of cardboard! I’ve never been inside, but there’s a real building there.

Patsy on March 2, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Why don’t they broadcast the Oscars from a Shrine Auditorium or a Dorothy Chandler Pavilion anymore? Are these locations still standing and used in LA?

DonSolosan on March 2, 2008 at 6:49 pm

Yes, they’re both standing. The Chandler Pavilion is being used for operas right now; the Shrine was recently host to the Jules Verne Film Festival. Both are kind of on the fringe of the movie-making scene. Chandler is in downtown LA, the Shrine is farther south by USC. I don’t know if that had anything to do with the decision to set up at the Kodak, which is in the heart of Hollywood.

moviebuff82 on March 2, 2008 at 7:28 pm

I was dissapointed that Juno didn’t win the trophy for Best Picture but a got a much needed Best Original Screenplay win for a writer who used to be a stripper. I just saw Juno and thought it was way better than No Country of Old Men. Can’t wait to buy it on blu-ray. It was a movie that everyone can enjoy without being sad. It also has a good soundtrack, which didn’t get the award it deserved at the Academy but might win it come Grammy time next year.

TheaterBuff1 on March 3, 2008 at 1:03 am

When it is said that this year’s Oscar telecast was the lowest rated ever, it almost holds the implication that there were far more exciting things to attune to during the same time it aired. But I’ve always found that if there is anything exciting happening in America the Academy Awards Presentations embodies it. This year, however, America-wise, there was nothing to get excited about, or “hung about,” as the Beatles might say. So in the face of that across-the-nation dullness, this year’s Oscar telecast had quite a challenge in making itself exciting. The “highpoint of interest” this year while the Oscars aired was the presidential race going on, and that, too, surely must be the lowest-rated presidential race ever. It is by far the dullest presidential race I’ve ever seen, so dull, that if this year’s Oscar telecast had acknowledged it in any it would’ve really made for an especially dull Oscar telecast. So thank God it didn’t!

I don’t deny that many Americans tuned out the Academy Awards this year. But it should be noted that they tuned out everything else as well, lest it be made to look like the Academy Awards is being singled out and picked on as being dull while all else other than that is being praised and flocked to.

Mikeoaklandpark on March 3, 2008 at 7:54 am

I think that the show this year was great. I think part of the problem is there hasn’t been a blcokbuster movie that has won in years. Last year Dreamgirls which should have been nominated wasn’t. In the past few years the best picture winner has not swept the awards.
Million Dollar Baby-4
The Departed-4
No Country-4
Holywood needs a blcokbuster movie.The one good thing about this year was that only 2 of the acting catagories were locks. This is the first year I can remember that the supportin actress catagory had a different winner Globes-Cate Blanchet,Sag-Ruby Dee and Oscar -Tilda Swinton. I do think they voted honestlyfor the best actress as Maion Cortillard was incredible.

bruceanthony on March 3, 2008 at 10:18 am

The highest rated show in the history of the Oscars was 1970 which had the highest concentration of superstars from Bob Hope hosting to John Wayne winning his first Oscar to Elizabeth Taylor giving out the Best Picture Award her first Oscars since 1960. As Bob Hope said during the show anyone who is anyone in Hollywood is here tonight. It was one of the last shows to be dominated by old Hollywood superstars a record 70 Million plus watched that show. I found this years show lacking the old Hollywood magic and the films nominated very arty small films that most of America hasn’t seen.Most of the films were very dark and violent at a time when our country is at war, we are on the verge of a recession and Jon Stewart was right I think Hollywood needs to give America a little hug right now. I also know that there are many Cable stations today and not just the big three networks as in the old days. The Old Hollywood did a better job of giving America a lift during times of trouble and the film product was more balanced. I saw all five nominated films while well crafted and acted didn’t have the wow factor for me. None of the Five films will be in my film collection.brucec

ceasar on March 3, 2008 at 11:12 am

Over years what has turned some off some of the viewing public is the fact that some actors used thier speeches to address thier politics. Which cause some to loose out at the box office. Even away from the oscars when actors speak publicly on thier politics,it backfired at the box office.
I learned over the weekend that the Screen Actors Guild contracts are up for negations this summer. And its over the same issues that was addressed in Writers Guild Strike.

moviebuff82 on March 3, 2008 at 2:56 pm

The most popular Oscars of all time will be the one back in 1954, when From Here to Eternity won the statuette. It was seen in 82 percent of American homes, back when TV was just a fad. It was the first awards show to gain popularity, followed by the Grammys, Golden Globes, and of course, the Emmys, which honor TV. Since the strike’s over, ratings could be up for the Emmys moreso than the oscars, since TV ratings have rebounded from a lull during the strike period. Right now the box office is in a bit of a slump that started in late February. Blu-Ray movies will dominated the sales charts over DVD in time, and Netflix will become more popular than Blockbuster. Out of Youtube’s 100 million+ vids, some of them have pirated movies that can be viewed in parts. It won’t be long before the age of moviegoing will end in the viewer’s home.

ceasar on March 3, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Excellent point on that one. Cinemas will actually become thing of the past especially when techology is involved. Now we can dowmload films on our flat computer monitors. Next thing u might have Direct Tv make the same offer by passing the pay per view.It does reveal a weakness of Tinsletown that they’re not up to speed with techonogies.

moviebuff82 on March 3, 2008 at 3:51 pm

When TV goes digital next year, expect attendance at movie theaters to go down more, and the era of the movie theater might soon be extinct.

DonSolosan on March 3, 2008 at 8:11 pm

There’s still a segment of the population that doesn’t want to get all its entertainment at home: young people. They’ve been driving the box office for quite a while, and as long as there are parents to escape, there will probably be movie theaters.

TheaterBuff1 on March 4, 2008 at 4:10 am

To say that the era of the movie theater might soon be extinct is the same in my views as saying a major crash in our economy is imminent. For the day that all humanity retreats into its own respective private little cubbyholes is surely to be the day that this planet gives a big groan and says, “All right, enough of that!” and shakes us all back out again.

As for me, I’m one of those who goes in for having a decent home system for viewing movies, but I’d be kidding you and myself if I hid the fact that I rely on this as just a tie-over till the movie theaters come back once more. For come on, you guys, watching a movie in the privacy of your home is like drinking alone or something. Where can it possibly lead to? It doesn’t matter how good the home-based systems are.

Maybe the movie theaters won’t come back, but if they don’t it’s not because the home-based movie-viewing systems are a thousand times better. It’s not a question of great technical strides being made on the home front that’s displacing the theaters. Rather, it’s this illusion that so many now have that everyone can keep going off in their own direction, writing off everyone else in the process, and the world can continue to accommodate it. From the sacrifice of the theater and the rise of the home-based system it has handled it so far. But all told that doesn’t mean anything. For rubberbands don’t stretch forever without snapping. But my saying that right now is kind of like FDR pushing his New Deal policies in the ‘28 election; FDR, armed with the right stuff, but putting it to a world that didn’t want to hear it yet.

ceasar on March 4, 2008 at 9:06 am

I heard that the box office revenues have climbed up too. U know recently I did a Google search on cinema closing and I found some more going on in Northeast. Like a multiplex owned by National Amusements has closed in Amity,CT. I like the fact that Sheri Redstone criticized her competitors in the industry and most of those cinama chains like Cinmark,Regel Entertainment Group are here in the southeast and Southwest. I figure when a cinema closes I factor in box office losses with it. I maybe wrong on that. But that’s how try to see the big picture.
One thing I did learn about Regel Entertainment Group. They went bankrupt in the early 00s. Once I read about it in Wikipedia it all made sence becouse of the selling of the local cinema to Village Entertainment. Now why Regel sell to such disrepectable owner? Especially one that’s bad apple. Listen in a Google search college students who once worked with Village Entertainment are speaking out on how bad that company is.

DonSolosan on March 4, 2008 at 11:22 am

The box office keeps going up, but it’s from rising ticket prices, not admissions.

moviebuff82 on March 4, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Just like the cost of gas, although drivers continue to drive to gas stations in droves whenever they run out of gas…same thing for the movie rental business. Where I work at CVS, business is doing great in the pharmacy section, as well as the front store. In a time where a recession might happen, people tend to forget all the bad things and focus on important stuff like the election. Maybe next year 10,000 BC could get an award for best makeup and costumes!!!

TheaterBuff1 on March 5, 2008 at 12:36 am

It’s all a balancing act, to be sure. And theaters sink or swim all depending what the existing state of balance is. Regarding the 2008 election, I continue to hold that if Obama prevails it will spell an especial death knell for theaters, my basing this on what happened to the DuPage movie palace in his district while he totally refused to intervene on behalf of those attempting to restore it, and if Clinton prevails, it might just be the booster shot the struggling theaters all across America could well use. I remember how much her husband loved movies while he was in the White House, while I’m assuming she shared his passion.

As for Oscars this year, my only real complaint, aside from the fact that there were no unprepared for political outbursts which make the evening in my views, is that they came and went too fast! Someone mentioned earlier, and I quite agree, it was better when they aired in March. What I think would be an interesting idea, and please note you’re hearing it here first, is that, instead of airing the Oscars in February like they did this year, have a special preliminary show in February where they simply air the trailers of movies that will be up for Oscars, which could also include in-depth interviews with the films' directors, stars and so forth. Then, with the stage being set by that, air the Oscars in March like, they used to do, with viewers having a much better grasp of what’s getting praised, and why.

KingBiscuits on April 28, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Losing one theatre does not mean the end of the world. Sometimes people can be really stupid.

There’s life and there’s everything else. Sometimes, the fate of the world is better than saving a theatre that probably won’t be saved anyway.

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