Entertainment

How the Oscars Plan to Pull Off Their Controversial Ceremony Changes

The theme of the 2022 Oscars is “all about uniting movie lovers,” producer Will Packer said in a recent press release. However, some of the proposed changes to this year’s telecast—from honoring an #OscarsFanFavorite film to requiring vaccines for only nominees and guests—have seemed determined to divide cinephiles. 

None has sparked more outrage than the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ decision to pretape some categories prior to the broadcast, airing edited versions of their presentations during prime-time. The move to boost ratings by cutting live categories has infuriated members of the impacted branches, among them editors, short-subject filmmakers, and production designers. 

AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin addressed some of the less-embraced changes during a recent call with Deadline’s Pete Hammond. The pair also shed light on how the affected categories will be presented on Oscar night and where nominees will be sitting. 

According to Hudson and Robin, all attendees are expected inside the Dolby Theatre at 4 p.m. PT when the awards start, as opposed to the 5 p.m. PT kickoff for the ABC broadcast. Given that the red carpet show will be simultaneously happening outside, some of the evening’s major stars will adhere to “timed arrivals” to avoid a rush inside or empty carpet (and won’t be present while these eight categories are awards). Rubin assured Deadline that “most attendees of the Oscars love coming early anyway.”

The audience will endure a four-hour show so that viewers at home can (hopefully) watch it all unfold in a tight three hours, a timeframe key to fixing the Oscars’ ratings, Hudson said. “So, after 11 o’clock, the viewership on the East Coast goes down, and you measure viewership up until the last commercial break,” she explained. “This is way granular, but if your last commercial break is after 11 o’clock or way after 11 o’clock, now you’re just absorbing all that declining audience and it impacts your entire ratings, which impacts your advertisers for the next.”

Hudson suggested that the network was vocal in their desire to prerecord several categories to shave time. “ABC’s been such strong creative partners with us and we’ve allowed for a lot of experimentation on our show for many, many years, but it became imperative,” she told Deadline. “We just had to make changes.”

The Oscars will also get a stadium-esque seating makeover in accordance with COVID safety protocols. There will be 800 fewer seats in the Dolby than usual, with rows of seats eliminated from the orchestra section for social distancing. In their place “will be decked seating instead with a floor for the section where the nominees will sit,” the outlet reports. 

The 94th Academy Awards, hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes, airs on March 27.

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