After the 2018 Academy Awards telecast’s ratings sunk to a new low, this year’s host-free 91st edition of Hollywood’s annual celebration of cinematic greatness and designer-wear glitz drew 29.6 million viewers on Sunday night. That is an 11% increase from last year’s 26.5 million.
The three-hour-17-minute show also scored a 7.7 rating in the all-important demo of adults 18-49, up 13 percent from last year when “The Shape of Water” won Best Picture.
It is still the second-lowest viewership ever. But considering all the sturm and drang leading up to the show. as its producers pulled back from such ideas as having the tweet-tainted comic actor Kevin Hart host, presenting awards for editing and cinematography during ad breaks and only allowing two of the Best Song nominees to be performed on air, this is at least a step in the right direction.
By comparison, this year’s Grammys attracted 19.9 million viewers and the Golden Globes gathered 18.6 million.
One plus this year was the number of top box-office hits in the running. That included the first-ever comic-book-spawned superhero adventure, “Black Panther,” in the running for Best Picture and six other awards. The No. 1 grosser last year with $1.3 billlion worldwide, it took home three awards. Another global sensation was “Bohemian Rhapsody”– the top Oscar winner with four wins, including Best Actor for its star, Rami Malek — took in nearly $900 million in ticket sales. Even an adult drama, “A Star Is Born,” which snared Best Song trophy for its female headliner Lady Gaga, cashed in to a solid $425 million at the box office worldwide.
It didn’t even matter that the ’60s-era buddy road-trip flick, “Green Book,” a lower-budget film that took in just $144 million around the world, took Best Picture. As for the show itself, it generally got good reviews, earning an A-minus from Entertainment Weekly while Vulture noted that “the lack of host never felt acute or troubling.”