The history of the awards dates back to 1929 when the silent war film ‘Wings’ won the Oscar for best picture, and throughout the years since, generations of actors have earned fame and recognition through the Academy’s influence. Katherine Hepburn is the only person to ever win 4 Oscars, all of which were awarded in the ‘Best Actress’ category. Meryl Streep has earned the most nominations by far, with her total of 21 nominations greatly exceeding the next highest total. Despite the obvious talent and skill of women like Katherine and Meryl, a disturbingly small amount of the film industry is made up of women. Only 20 percent of Best Director nominees are women alongside only 11 percent of writing nominees. In total, an unbelievable 77 percent of non-acting Academy Award nominees are male, again displaying the massive discrepancies in opportunities for female members of the film community. In addition, 84 percent of Academy Awards voters are white, meaning that minority groups are also underrepresented at the awards.
Integral to the success of the Oscars is the interest of fans. The 2018 edition of the awards was mentioned over 2.5 million times across all social media platforms worldwide, with these fan interactions encouraging sponsorship and advertisement from companies such as Samsung, General Motors, and Walmart. 2017 was the biggest year ever in terms of revenue, with the night of the Oscars generating around 114 million U.S. dollars through advertising revenue alone. The average price of a single 30-second commercial has grown to over 1.9 million U.S. dollars, and given an average network advertising time of around 43 minutes, there are plenty of checks to be collected.
The key challenge that the Academy faces in the coming years is not related to viewership, but to the perceived discrimination within the industry. The figures are quite clear that changes must be made in order to foster gender and racial equality, and it is up to the Academy to take the necessary steps to ensure that this issue is fixed in the coming years. Given the ever-increasing financial success of the ceremony, the awards certainly do not lack the financial ability to improve the ceremony and drive the Oscars to continued success in the future.