New movie trailers could boost Oscar ratings

Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:40am EST
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By Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - If there's one thing the producers of the Academy Awards should have learned from the 2009 telecast, it's that Hollywood loves a hit.

Initial reviews of the Hugh Jackman-hosted extravaganza were mixed. And the feeling inside the Governors Ball that night was that the show's new pieces of flair -- "innovations" such as carting out former acting winners to hand out awkward praise to nominees they likely didn't care much about -- merely added a lighter shade of rouge to the aging starlet.

But ratings went up. About 10 percent more people watched, reversing the downward spiral of the past few years. And voila! -- the show has been deemed a success almost universally ever since.

As Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman put together their plan for the 82nd annual ceremony March 7, they should be mindful that their efforts will be criticized unless they lure more eyeballs while still maintaining the aura of the Oscars as Hollywood's most esteemed evening of pomp and self-celebration.

Here's how: Introduce movie trailers to the show.

Think about it. At five strategically timed slow points in the ceremony, a major star could appear to introduce a two-minute clip of never-before-seen footage from an upcoming film. Every major studio, mini-major and specialty division would be invited to enter a lottery for the five slots, the only rule being that the winning studios' clips -- any clip; it can be something from a prestige project or from "Iron Man 2" -- has never been seen before.

Can you imagine what kind of interest there would be if Summit revealed the first glimpse of June's "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" during the telecast? Actually, we don't have to speculate. Exclusive footage of "New Moon" -- including the first shots of the film's shirtless werewolves -- aired during the MTV Movie Awards in June, and the show's ratings shot up 92 percent in the target demo, its best performance in five years.

Studios probably would jump at the chance to showcase their shiniest wares in front of the billion-or-so moviegoers who tune in around the world. If Warner Bros. were given the opportunity to debut three minutes of Christopher Nolan's "Inception," millions likely would tune in just to check out what the "Dark Knight" director has up his sleeve. When these lookie-loos also are exposed to the smaller films being honored, such as likely multiple-nominees "The Hurt Locker" or "Precious," all the better for the film industry.   Continued...