The Academy Award show is gearing up for 2014 and, apart from the films and actors nominated for the honors, there are plenty of things planned to capture and keep the viewers’ attention. The main show begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
Ellen DeGeneres is hosting the festivities and the theme this year is “Heroes.” The producers for the show for the second year in a row are Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who said they were looking for a theme that was “entertaining and emotional.” They’ll be honoring the actors and directors that have taken the risks to fascinate and stimulate audiences over the years in the cinematic industry. While admitting that the “Heroes” theme could get a bit heavy at times, they promise plenty of light moments for Degeneres and also hinted at some slick musical moments to surprise the audience for the 86th Academy Awards.
There will be at least one first in the show, as Bette Midler will be making her Oscar debut. “The Divine Miss M” has been nominated before, but this will be her first time to perform. The song, or songs, she will perform have been kept a secret.
Movie fans are also anticipating a tribute to the 75th anniversary of the year 1939, considered by many to be the best film year in history. It will be highlighted by a celebration of the best film that year, The Wizard of Oz.
The audience will also be treated to something of a feature-within-the-feature, as the trophies will be given out to the winners by filmmaking students. The aspiring filmmakers earned the honors through a competition of their own projects.
On the business side, advertisers are gearing up for the Academy Award Show, too, as television viewers will see spots from many long-time sponsors of the Oscars. McDonald’s will be making its 23rd straight appearance and American Express will be there for the 22nd time. J.C. Penny will be the most prominent sponsor this year, as they have been since 2001.
ABC has broadcast the Academy Award show since 1976, with a contract that runs through 2020. There is a good reason for that. Last year the Oscars attracted some 40 million viewers in the U.S. That figure represents the biggest TV audience ever for a non-sporting event, and netted ABC around $88 million in revenue from advertisers. The cost for advertisers this year will average $1.8 million for 30 seconds, with the networks revenue expected to be close to $95 million. Viewership is projected to be strong this year throughout the telecast because there is no clear-cut favorite for the Best Picture category.
The Best Picture winner will reap big economic rewards too. On average over the past five years, the top film has made an additional $17.9 million after winning the Oscar. That amounts to around 28 percent of the total box-office revenue.
Even though the main telecast does not begin until 8:30 p.m., fans will have plenty of time to gear up for the 86th Academy Award show earlier in the day. ABC’s coverage of the red carpet will begin at 4:00 p.m. ET, with countdown coverage on several cable outlets throughout the day.
By Chuck Podhaisky