Hollywood has been uncomfortable during the quiet awards season

Steven Spielberg Directing music filled with dance on the streets of New York. Lady Gaga is broadcasting her Italian origins. Will Smith Back to the big screen. This year’s award season should celebrate the return of Hollywood glitz and glamor. No masks, no socially distant award shows or no zoom acceptance speeches, no rewarding movies seen by very few.

Now, as Omicron decides not to televise the Golden Globes on Sunday between the Spike and NBC decisions, Hollywood has traditionally gone crazy – and filled with hype – the first week of the calendar year, due to moral issues surrounding the awards-giving group. A whisper. AFI Awards postponed. The Critics’ Choice Awards – scheduled to air on Sunday night in hopes of filling the void left by the absence of the Globes – have been pushed back. The annual stop on the way to the Palm Springs Film Festival and awards campaign has been canceled. And most of those Star-Drive Award favorites were bombed at the box office.

The Academy Awards are set to take place on March 27 with nominations on February 8, but there is no indication of what the event will look like. (The company has already postponed its annual Governors Awards, presenting honorary Oscars at a non-television ceremony for the past 11 years.) Who is the host? How is the crowd? Probably the most important, anyone see? The Academy hired a filmmaker, Girls Trip, in October to oversee the show, but declined to comment further on the details.

Suddenly, 2022 is similar to 2021. Hollywood is once again missing out on much of its annual self-congratulatory season, but is also looking to downplay the film business’s best advertising form when it is most needed. And it has far-reaching effects on the types of films that are produced.

“For the box office – when there’s a fully functional box office – that’s all the award shows,” said Nancy Attlee, former co – chair of Fox Searchlight, who helped transform small ambitious films such as 12 Years a Slave and The Shape of Water. She won an Oscar for Best Picture during her 21-year tenure. “The recognition there was the reason for watching the short film. How do you do this in the current climate? That’s hard. “

During the crucial weeks between the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards, many ambitious films are released each year with the expectation of making the most of their box office receipts. The decline of the Globes – which collapsed after the revelation of possible financial irregularities, questionable journalistic ethics and the lack of significant diversity within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that administers awards – has already shaken that equation. If the Hollywood hype machine loses its awards season engine, it could prove devastating to an already injured box office. This may be where the massive audience change fueled by streaming comes into play Blockbuster glasses only Spider-Man: There are a significant number of spectators who go to the theater like No Way Home.

Spider-Man: No Way Home, No Way Home Spider-Man: No Way Home gave a huge boost to box office recovery when US movie theaters reopened a year after the closure of Kovid-19 last spring. (Photo: Marvel Studios)

“The film business is this huge rock, and we’re close to seeing that rock break,” said Stephen Gallow, dean of the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University and former executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter. “People have got out of the habit of watching movies on the big screen. The award season is one of the best single tub-thumping phenomena in the world. How many years can you live without it?

The Academy Awards were created in 1929 to promote Hollywood’s achievements to the outside world. At its peak, the telecast attracted 55 million viewers. That number has been falling for years and last year it hit an all-time low – 10.4 million viewers for the show without a host, no musical numbers and the best-seen best movie winner in Nomad‌land. (Released simultaneously in theaters and on Hulu, the film grossed just $ 3.7 million.)

Even before the awards season, Hollywood plans to answer last year with full lightning. Despite its many streaming options, it employs its biggest stars and the most famous directors to remind consumers that theatergoing has an important place in the wider culture.

It did not work. People, for the most part, are reluctant to return to theaters with any regularity. No Time to Die, the last turn of Daniel Craig as James Bond, was delayed by a year due to the epidemic and when finally released, it grossed only $ 160.7 million in the United States and Canada. It is $ 40 million less than the 2015 Bond Film Specter and $ 144 million less than the 2012 highest grossing film in the franchise, Skyfall.

Well-reviewed, traditionally large presence in the awards circuit, such as Last Night in Soho ($ 10.1 million), Nightmare Alley ($ 8 million) and Belfast ($ 6.9 million), did not just make waves at the box office. .

Spielberg’s adaptation of West Side Story Rotten Tomatoes had a positive rating of 93%, but grossed only $ 30 million at the domestic box office. (The original grossed $ 44 million back in 1961, equivalent to $ 409 million today.)

According to a recent study, 49% of pre-pandemic movie audiences no longer buy tickets. Eight percent said they would not return. Those numbers are based on the death knell for mid-budget films, the positive word of mouth and well-publicized praise for seating patrons in the seats.

Some believe that the middle part of the movie business – between $ 20 million and $ 60 million (such as Licorice Pizza and Nightmare Alley) and the middle part of movies that do not rely on the comic book or other well-known intellectual property can be changed. Forever. If viewing habits have changed permanently, and award nominations and achievements no longer prove to be a significant draw, it will be very difficult to break those images. If audiences like to go to the movies only to see the latest Spider-Man movie, it’s hard to convince them to watch a movie like Belfast, Kenneth Branagh black-and-white meditation in his childhood. A crowded theater rather than their living room.

“All of this doesn’t just affect personal film and filmmakers’ careers,” Gallow said. “It simply came to our notice then. It affects the whole art form. And art is fragile. “

Among the other best film contestants to have delivered significant theatrical releases, the science-fiction scene Doon alone crossed the $ 100 million mark at the box office. King Richard earned $ 14.7 million, and licorice pizza $ 7 million.

“The number of non-genre adult dramas that have cracked $ 50M is zero,” film journalist and historian Mark Harris wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “1917 ‘$ 160M,’ Ford v. Ferrari ‘$ 120M, and’ Parasite ‘$ 52M 2019 world gone.”

Still, the studios are adjusting. MGM is slowing the theatrical release of Licorice Pizza after seeing other ambitious films as it enters more than 1,000 theaters. The release of “Cirano” starring Peter Dinklaze in Britain is being postponed to February, hoping that older female cinema-goers will return to film by then to follow the US release. Sony is reviving the used playbook in Pictures Classics 2021: the academy is also rapidly shifting the distribution of more virtual screenings and virtual Q&As to entice voters. Its documentary “Julia” about Julia Child, a premium video-on-demand hit during the holidays.

Many studios came before the latest pandemic wave with sparkling premieres and holiday parties in early December that required proof of vaccination and on-site testing. But so far in January, many regular awards promotional events such as screenings and cocktail parties have been canceled or moved to the virtual world. For your consideration ”Billboards around Los Angeles are still a familiar sight, but most of the personal encounters and greetings are discontinued.

Netflix, which releases films in theaters only on a limited basis, does not report box office results, and is likely to gain a huge presence in the award circuit this year with films such as Tick, Tick Boom, The Power of the Dog and The Last. Daughter competing for prizes. Like most other studios, it has moved virtually all private events that take place in January.

“Last year was a very tough adaptation, and this year too is going to be in line with what’s happening right now,” Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, said in a telephone interview last week. . He spoke as he walked through the frosty streets of Manhattan without getting caught in the sunshine of Palm Springs, California, where he had to pay homage to his famous lady Penelope Cruz at the Oscar nominee Parallel Mothers.

“You will be replaced by doing what you can, and once this is over, you’ll see what the new world order will be like,” he said.

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