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BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - Facing a future where many movies will be seen in homes, Oscar organizers on Monday unveiled this year's awards show theme at an annual luncheon honoring nominees by asking fans to relish memories of why they love movies and going to theaters.
"Celebrate the movies in all of us," is the idea that Academy Award co-producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer, as well as Tom Sherak, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, are asking film lovers to espouse this year.
"I hope this theme is something you guys can celebrate with us," Grazer told the audience of A-list Oscar nominees including Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Viola Davis.
Grazer, producer of past best movie winner "A Beautiful Mind," said that in these current days when more and more movies are delivered directly to homes via video-on-demand systems using the Internet, satellite and cable TV, it is time to remember the communal experience of shared laughter and emotion that people experience in a theater.
To reinforce the theme, the academy has put a range of movie stars and beloved film roles on its Oscar poster -- Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump" and Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind," among them -- and Grazer said Oscar's home stage inside the Kodak Theater in Hollywood would be "re-imagined" to look and feel like a movie theater.
He said Oscar host Billy Crystal has a "fantastic film" to open the show, and Grazer and Mischer had only three goals for the ceremony that will take place on February 26: be funny, show some class, and be on time.
On that last note, Mischer admonished nominees to keep their speeches down to a brief 45 seconds, and he introduced a comical video in which Hanks tutored nominees on how to "make it short, make it simple (and) make it sincere" when it came to speeches.
The Oscar nominees lunch is a dressed-down affair compared to the tuxedos and gowns worn on Academy Award night, and it is a chance for lesser-known, but no less important, nominees such as David Vickery, who will vie for best visual effects with his work on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," to rub elbows with top nominees such as Glenn Close ("Albert Nobbs") or Michelle Williams ("My Week with Marilyn").
"It's fun to catch up, and it's fun to see people I like and haven't seen in a long time," Clooney, a best actor nominee for "The Descendants," told reporters in pre-luncheon interviews.
Jean Dujardin, star of silent movie-era romance "The Artist" and a rival of Clooney's in the top acting category," said that to him it was a "big deal" to be nominated but he was trying to avoid thinking too much about the possibility of winning.
"I want to leave the element of surprise. I want to feel the emotion of it, I don't want to anticipate it," he said.
Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Jill Serjeant