With the awards ceremony on last Sunday night the American awards season closes by awarding top awards to films that press/critics did not, thus widening the difference between those that work analyzing and/or criticizing films and the ones inside the industry. As I follow a few press/critics I noticed that as the ceremony broadcast advanced bitter and not so nice –yet very funny- comments started to be twitted. No doubt that they were still expecting that The Social Network will be honored as much as they honored the film with their multiple awards and lists. But it didn’t happen.
As an observer of both groups I believe that those that earn a living by writing or commenting about films are a bit concerned about their current function but not only because this awards season incredible discrepancy but also about the “many other forms” that are threatening their raison d’être. Not long ago was reading an article in a very well-known newspaper by a well-known movie critic that -in summary- was “complaining” about “amateur” critics that populate the Internet, especially the “bloggers”. Somehow I felt he was talking to me. Without going further into what I read, my specific point regarding what I’m saying in this paragraph is that I’m seeing clearly that “traditional professional critics” are in need of starting to change as the Internet is changing the way audiences get their information about movies and their “distance” (that seems is getting wider) with those that work inside the industry is not helping them at all to obtain more “credibility” concerning their know-how about films and the industry.
But there is a third element that somehow both industry and press/critics tend to consider less and less, audiences. Not much free information about audiences behavior is available but to give us an idea let’s consider what unfortunately moves the world, money. According to Box Office Mojo these are the Total Gross for the week ending February 27th for the ten films nominated for Best Film at the Academy Awards. Expressed in US Dollars and only for Domestic (meaning US market).
True Grit $167,132,442
The King’s Speech $114, 231, 030
Black Swan $103,576,418
The Social Network $96,917,897
The Fighter $90, 369,463
127 Hours $17,915,448
Winter’s Bone $6,502,610
Not running -Closed
Toy Story 3 $415 million
Inception $292.6 million
The Kids Are All Right $20.8 million
Above data tells us that American audiences are spending their money in what we like to call mainstream movies like Toy Story 3 and Inception. Then you have a group of five movies that are still running in theaters that include True Grit, The King’s Speech, Black Swan, The Social Network, and The Fighter. Last there are three movies that audiences didn’t benefit much with their dollars, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours and Winter’s Bone.
But what’s most interesting is that critic’s favorite, the movie that they recommended by so appallingly honoring it comes fourth in the above ranking, below the two top grosser and other three nominated movies. This data suggest that critic’s favorite, The Social Network, is NOT an audience’s favorite.
But this data suggests that Oscar top award (or industry perspective) also did not go to audience’s favorite, even when you exclude the two mainstream top grosser. Interesting.
Data shows what some of us already know or suspected, American cinema domestic press/critics and industry is showing increasing signs of being out-of-touch with their audiences when it comes to honors or awards. There are many reasons why this is happening and some are understandable as movies are a business but others might be harder to understand.
One particular issue made me comment on all of the above: the Academy Awards Show. Let’s say that show is organized by the industry and expand the definition to the broadcast industry, let’s remember that all this is a business and let’s go directly to the point: what on earth does everyone involved was thinking when planning, pre-producing and producing this year’s awards show? Have they forgotten that this IS the most watched annual SHOW in the world? (second in USA after the Super Bowl) Have they forgotten that audiences watch this show for mainly three reasons: they like movies and they like celebrities, but most of all, like entertainment; more clearly, an entertaining show about movies and celebrities that allows them to find out who wins what -in the main categories that usually are at the end of show-.
First thing yesterday I was going to write about the show but decided that was wiser to cool-off. So I read a lot of articles, watch TV news and entertainment programs (even Oprah – lol!), watched youtube clips, etc. etc. Still today before deciding to sit down and write something, read more stuff in the net. Here is my take away.
After the VERY entertaining Golden Globes awards show everyone, but everyone was talking about Ricky Gervais, good or bad, but they were talking about one of the most important components of the show; days went by and surely everyone forgot the winners, but they still kept on talking about Gervais. Surely many will remember 2011 Golden Globes as THE Ricky Gervais (good or bad) show. So, guess what they been talking about the recent Oscar show?
Let’s do a google search…
Oscars 2011 Anne Hathaway – About 61,300,000 results
Oscars 2011 James Franco – About 40,700,000 results
Oscars 2011 Winners – About 236,000,000 results
Hated Oscars 2011 – About 25,700,000 results
Loved Oscars 2011 – About 16,100,000 results
Not very scientific data (lol!) but yes, most results are about the winners in general, followed by Anne Hathaway and James Franco. If you google specific movies and/or actors, results go below Anne and James. This is only to somehow show you what the net is “talking” which in general is not much different to what I saw on TV yesterday.
For a moment let’s forget about the winners and concentrate in the other topics while dissecting (a little) the show. Since the opening montage I got the feeling that I was not going to enjoy much the show but gave the benefit of the doubt, so stayed watching but not for long as started to tweet to stay awake as show was putting me to sleep and of course wanted to learn live the winners.
For me the montage was like the movie, Inception; great special effects but no substance. So Anne and James open the show and was nothing special. Next academy insists in bringing back very-old movie stars, didn’t enjoyed when Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, etc were shown as what I saw doesn’t help at all the image I want to keep in my mind. Ditto with Kirk Douglas. I’m not offended by hearing on TV (or movies) the f-word or more specific hearing a blip in the show and immediately, thanks to twitter, learning that Melissa Leo became the first person in 83 years to say that word in an Academy Awards show. The rest of the show is not worth commenting, period.
But there are some things I enjoyed in the show like Anne Hathaway with her 7 changes of wardrobe and some dresses that looked spectacular, she trying alone to save the show (as Franco became insufferable, annoying, unbearable, etc exactly like the face he showed on the screen), Anne singing (come on we all know by now that she can really sing), Bob Hope remembering us how an Academy Awards show can be entertaining, some of my favorites winning (even when I predicted another winner) and my predictions for the top awards winning! I should have stayed predicting only the top awards, LOL!
Taking almost a couple of days to write this post allows me to be nicer when writing, but still have something else to say that I’m ‘stealing’ from an article called “An open letter to James Franco” that closes with the following:
"Disrespecting the Academy is one thing; we do it all the time. Disrespecting your audience is quite another — and even as a viewer very nearly as inebriated as you by the night’s end, I’m afraid that didn’t go unnoticed."
This Academy Awards ceremony will go into my cinema history as THE one that MOST disrespected audiences and most disrespected me as a show viewer and movie lover. Loved Ricky Gervais that probably was not much respectful to people in the ballroom, but HE absolutely respected and entertained the show broadcast audience.
Not only show ratings are down from last year but, as far as I read, the main objective organizers had to change the show format to attract younger viewers was not accomplished at all (as one example check MTV site for some viewers opinions; or more specifically search for ratings fall in the 18-34 demo). In their ratings quest organizers took out even more the show’s glamour to convert it into a hybrid that alienated many viewers, especially me. Still the big winner is without doubt ABC that weeks before the show announced it had sold all available spots (thanks to the promise of younger viewers) and with each 30-second spot fetching roughly $1.7 million, was able to collect more than $80 million in revenue. See, is all about business.
I close this post writing the words: BLACK SCREEN which summarizes my perception about this year show, which is also the way I started this post. Closure.