Hugh Jackman Beats Jon Stewart


After all the advance talk about how this might be the lowest-rated Oscar telecast of all time, it looks like this year’s ratings were 10% higher than last year’s.

If these numbers hold up, there’ll be plenty of speculation on what went right; the improvement is unexpected because this is probably the least-popular batch of Best Picture nominees ever. (You’ve got one genuinely popular movie, Slumdog Millionaire, but you’ve also got a movie that most people seem to hate, Benjamin Button, and one movie, The Reader, that was so unpopular that the best line in Jackman’s medley was “The Reader, I haven’t seen The Reader.”) But it might be that the re-formatting helped draw viewers in and keep them. One thing I got from the more intimate look of the show was that it made the evening feel a bit more like a Hollywood party, except without the booze. The choice of Jackman just re-enforced the idea that this was a gathering for movie-industry insiders. I think a lot of us like seeing movie stars looking comfortable.

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Hugh Jackman Beats Jon Stewart

  1. Honestly, I’d love to see the quarter-hour breakdowns, as I suspect that the show drew a HUGE audience for the announcement of Best Supporting Actor and then bled viewers for the remainder of the night. Probably a spike for Best Actor, as well, as that had a decent marquee value to it as well.

    If Dark Knight had been nominated for best picture, they probably would’ve held their audience the entire time and drawn a monster rating, even if Best Picture was sewn up ahead of time.

  2. Stephen: The ratings were surprisingly consistent throughout, though, obviously, they dropped somewhat after 11, as they always do.

    I, in general, am skeptical that anyone tunes in to the Oscars to see the host, and I’m always amused when the host is “blamed” for lower ratings. The reason the ratings slightly ticked up this year, I think, was because there were two genuine movies people had seen in the line-up, even if they strongly disliked Ben Button. It makes one wonder how much higher the ratings would have been with Dark Knight or Wall-E (both of which had to be close with their large number of nominations) in the line-up.

    The real problem here is that the kinds of movies Oscar rewards are no longer the kinds of movies that are popular. I watched the 1989 Oscars over the weekend, and I was surprised to learn Rain Man was the NUMBER ONE HIT of that year at the box office, even with big, summer entertainments like Die Hard or Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in the mix. I’m not a huge fan of Rain Man, but today, it would be lucky to crack $75 million, due to the shifting demographics of the movie-going population and the studios idiotic release patterns for Oscar hopefuls. It’s not that Oscar has suddenly started nominating completely different movies from what it used to, as a lot of the ceremony’s critics would maintain. It’s that the old, reliable adult moviegoing audience has evaporated in the last ten years (hell, even eight years ago, A Beautiful Mind was a massive, massive hit), and the Oscars are too hidebound and TOO BIG to suddenly start nominating movies in genres they’ve never been that comfortable with.

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