Disney threatened to cancel the Oscars this year if 8 awards categories weren’t cut

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Credit: Disney/ABC

The Academy Awards televised broadcast will look a bit different this year, thanks to pressure from the ABC television network, owned by Disney.

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A group of “governors” makes up the board that oversees all the affairs and goings-on of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences–so many governors, in fact, that some management experts might not believe the group could accomplish much: there are 54 of them in total.

Imagine trying to make decisions and come to a general consensus with 53 other people every single time something had to be determined! That’s exactly what the Academy does, but when it comes to the 94th Academy Awards set to air on March 27, 2022, the board is experiencing something akin to a civil war, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Oscars 2022 | 94th Academy Awards

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According to Cartoon Brew, citing an article from The Hollywood Reporter, one of the governors from the board recalled Disney-owned ABC’s position on the Oscars ceremony, saying that he had been told ABC would cancel the entire telecast of the annual awards ceremony if some of the awards categories weren’t removed from the show.

“We were told we’d have to sacrifice something or we were going to lose the whole show,” he said.

At the end of February, it was announced that some of the awards categories won’t be presented during this year’s telecast of the Oscars. They’ll be awarded, but viewers will never see it on television, as eight of them, including documentary short, film editing, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live-action short, and sound, will be awarded an hour before the live telecast. The presentation of these awards will be recorded, and then edited into the broadcast.

Disney-owned ABC has the exclusive rights to the Academy Awards broadcast through 2028. Last year’s televised ceremony yielded the lowest-ever ratings for the awards presentation, and no one at ABC was happy about that.

“​​In order to provide more time and opportunity for audience entertainment and engagement through comedy, musical numbers, film clip packages and movie tributes, a change in the show’s production will take place,” said Academy President David Rubin explained.

The pre-show presentation of awards in these 8 categories is a variation of the same technique the Academy used in 2019, during which 4 categories of awards were presented before the televised event. But this didn’t bode well with directors like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino and others who felt the decision wasn’t fair and signed an open letter, saying that “relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status” was “an insult.”

Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino lead protest over recent Oscar decision

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So the Academy stepped back from the idea–for a while. But ratings from the televised awards ceremony only continued on its downward trend. This year’s awards ceremony will double the number of pre-show awards, a decision that has been met with copious amounts of backlash and infighting.

But surely the Academy isn’t acting completely on its own in this decision, as news continues to surface about Disney-owned ABC threatening to scrub the show altogether if cuts were not made to the number of awards presented in the live broadcast, presumably in an effort to allow more time for live engaging content, as per Academy President Rubin’s statement.

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Credit: IndieWire

Rubin also said that the Academy has a responsibility to “prioritize the television audience to increase viewer engagement and keep the show vital, kinetic, and relevant.” He further said that the goal is to “create an exciting, streamlined” show without “sacrificing the long-held fundamentals of [the] organization.”

Rubin further promised that “ALL winners’ acceptance speeches will be featured” during the broadcast, even if they aren’t live.

You can watch the 94th Academy Awards live on ABC on Sunday, March 27 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. (Well, most of it will be live.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!