Organisers of the 91st Academy Awards this weekend are fighting back against claims that Hollywood’s biggest night is in crisis.
Last year’s Oscars attracted the lowest ever US TV audience and attempts to change the format this year were abandoned in embarrassing u-turns.
This Sunday’s show will even take place without a host after comedian Kevin Hart withdrew after a furore over homophobic tweets.
But those in charge of putting on the show this time deny that the talk of chaos is adding to the pressure.
David Korins, the production designer behind a spectacular crystal-encrusted set, told Sky News: “I feel honoured and excited to be part of the show.
“To me the interesting thing about the Academy Awards is that there is not really a specific linear narrative. It is a show that starts when it starts and ends when it ends.”
In response to the falling ratings, the Academy last year announced a new awards category for best popular picture. It was an attempt to include more mainstream movies but was abandoned after a backlash.
A plan to trim the show’s running time – it ran nearly four hours last year – by handing out four technical awards during the commercial breaks also prompted outrage and was scrapped.
The struggles to find a host and the controversy over Hart has added to the disarray, surprising those who observe the movie business.
Steven Gaydos, executive editor of the industry magazine Variety said: “I don’t know if we’d call it a crisis or just a mess. The Academy needs to do some very tough soul-searching about how they got into this place.”
Although there won’t be a best popular picture category, the nominees for best picture do include some box office blockbusters this year, potentially increasing the interest among viewers at home.
Black Panther, the first superhero movie ever nominated for best picture, made $1.3bn (£997.6m) worldwide at the box office. It’s cultural significance could also be a saviour for Oscars night.
Film critic Amy Nicholson said: “I think Black Panther being up there, mainly for the foothold it had in our culture this year, as a touchstone of something that not only made a ton of money but also really started a dialogue about what we want Hollywood to look like in the future, in a way that’s what the Oscars should be doing with their TV ratings.”
As for the awards themselves, this year is seen as being one of the most open races in recent history. The big prizes have been shared at award show which traditionally give a clue as to the Oscar favourites.
:: You can watch the whole of the Oscars ceremony on Sky Cinema Oscars from 10pm on Sunday 24 February starting with red carpet arrivals
(c) Sky News 2019: Can Black Panther save the Oscars from chaos?