“The 96th Academy Awards will try to make people believe in the resurrection of Hollywood cinema”

The 96th Oscars ceremony, which will be celebrated on Sunday March 10, will try to make people believe in the resurrection of Hollywood cinema after the announcement of its death in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the summer of 2023, the American cinema industry stocked up on optimism with the double success of Barbie ($1.44 billion in theatrical revenue, or 1.32 billion euros, including 636 million in the United States) and Oppenheimer ($957 million, including $329 million in the United States), feature films produced by movie studios (as opposed to streaming platforms), Warner and Universal, as well received by the public and the critics. This stock of good humor is not yet completely exhausted and we will prolong the illusion of this rebirth for the duration of an evening.

Between them, the films of Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan, united under the nickname “Barbenheimer”, accumulate twenty-one nominations. The first demonstrated that a commercial entertainment (in the beginning was a toy) could be elevated to the status of a work of art, the second that an abstruse subject made of atoms and now ancient history was capable of moving the crowds. For a few weeks, we wanted to believe that it was still possible to base the American cinema economy on theatrical exhibition.

The fate of other nominees tells a different story. Funded by Apple, Killers of the Flower Moon (ten nominations) grossed 157 million dollars, including 68 million in the United States, while Martin Scorsese’s film cost more than 200 million dollars. For a traditional studio, it would be a disaster. For Apple, whose pockets are deeper than the Mariana Trench, it is an investment intended to recruit subscribers for its platform.

The room is just a showcase

American audiences had three weeks to see Unsinkable, which earned Jodie Foster a fifth nomination (supporting actress), on the big screen before Netflix released it online. The platform with 260 million subscribers does not deviate from the line set by its director, Ted Sarandos: the room is only a showcase, which arouses media attention and allows the titles thus exposed to acquire notoriety which still escapes those who release directly in streaming, an operation which must be carried out in a minimum of time. For Netflix, a viewer at the entrance to a multiplex is a subscriber who has deserted his sofa.

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