Fresh off their best ratings in five years, the folks at the Academy Awards are ready to take on the mighty NFL.
A plan under consideration would move Oscar night up nearly a month, placing it in direct competition with football's postseason. The new schedule wouldn't come until 2012, if at all, but there is momentum for the change.
"It's not a done deal yet," Academy President Tom Sherak told the Los Angeles Times. "I think we would like to do it. Progress is being made, but we don't have it all right just yet."
The 2011 Oscars are slated for Feb. 27, and there's no indication that there will be any change on that front. Still, the Academy is hoping to set itself apart from he rest of the Awards Season crowd with a move right into the teeth of the National Football League postseason.
If you're naive enough to still be wondering why they would make such a move, the answer is simple: money. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But if they really want to boost ratings and in turn make more money, they should trim down the broadcast to three hours and give folks a show that moves. Film fans show almost zero interest in dance numbers for 364 nights a year and then along come the Oscars and we get the work of Hans Zimmer accompanied by breakdancers? Sadly, there's no indication that the Academy is ready for such changes.
"I'd love to have a three-hour show, but more important is giving them (viewers) a night that they'll remember," Sherak told Varietyback in March. "Getting a show in at two hours and 58 minutes that doesn't include the stuff everybody loves isn't the answer."
Complicating matters further is the fact that the NFL is thinking about expanding their regular season by two games, Making late January the heart of the league's playoff season.
The way things are now, the Oscars are the final night of movie awards, following the Critic's Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actor Guild British Academy of Film and Television Awards. But don't a lot of folks like to look to the other awards as bellwethers for their Oscar night prognostications? Has the Academy considered the fact that the way things are now they're the headliner? And if they move to January they're suddenly the opening act?
Another consideration for the plan is that it tightens considerably the window of time that voters have to catch up on seeing on the eligible films, which may force some distributors to move up the release of their films. Late-year releases are a time-honored tradition for Oscar hopefuls, like this year's "Blue Valentine," which is waiting until Dec. 31 to take a bow.
There's a lot the Academy could do to make itself more profitable, but trying to take on the NFL seems like a loser's bet.