So this year’s Oscar nominees consists of a solid slate of issue-related semi-indies and the coolest host they’ve ever managed to blackmail into that damn thankless job. So it’s not unexpected that today there are similar stories popping up all over: no one’s going to watch, and no one’s going to care.
James Bates at The Envelope points out that "roughly only 200,000 people so far have seen Felicity Huffman‘s Oscar-nominated performance in ‘Transamerica.’ That’s less than 1% of the weekly viewers who watch her on ABC’s ‘Desperate Housewives,’" and offers two perspectives:
Call it a triumph of art over commerce. In a year of small but quality films, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has followed to the letter its artistic mission. Or call it a massive disconnect with popular culture, a lineup of blue state movies playing in a red state multiplex.
Mary McNamara at the LA Times proper:
None of the five was conceived as a blockbuster or big film. To a title, the nominees are politically charged stories. (It’s a remarkable year when a film about Truman Capote is considered the least controversial of the batch.) None has been in more than 2,000 theaters.
At their widest reach, "Munich" was shown in 1,498 theaters and "Capote" in 348. Compare that with, say, "Dukes of Hazzard," which went to 3,785. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of those theaters are on the East and West Coasts.
And David Lieberman at USA Today tackles the economic reality:
"I don’t know how they get an attraction out of this. Look at the top films and tell me who’s starring in them. If I were an advertiser on the Oscars, I’d look for something else," says independent analyst Dennis McAlpine. "This is not going to give Hollywood a chance to promote the idea of going to the movies for entertainment."
That’s key, because the show and the industry need to build buzz. The Oscars’ 42.1 million audience last year was off 3.2% from 2004 and 9% since 2000.
We’re a little hard-pressed to care â€” isn’t this inevitable in the face of more movies than ever, more channels than ever, more options than ever? Welcome to the terrible dystopian future, where no one wants to watch the Oscars anymore.
Sad, however, that pop culture has officially outgrown its days of being easy common ground â€” though we can’t really remember the days when it was likely that someone not in your particular niche market had seen the same films/listened to the same albums as you.
+ The trouble with Oscar (The Envelope)
+ 5 Films With Depth, if Not Breadth (LA Times)
+ Oscar nods for small films could kill ad buzz for show (USA Today)