- Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017
The Academy is an artist-driven organization that advances the art and science of motion pictures. The Academy’s mission is to preserve the past, honor the present, and shape the future of film. It is composed of more than 7,000 members who are distinguished by their achievements in the movie industry.
The Academy builds cooperation among creative leaders for cultural, preservation, educational and technological progress; recognizes outstanding achievements through its Oscar show, the world’s most prestigious entertainment event; encourages cooperation on technical research and improvement of methods and equipment; provides a common forum and meeting ground for various motion picture-related crafts; represents the viewpoint of actual creators of the motion picture; and fosters educational activities for the professional community and the public.
The Academy was organized in May 1927 as a nonprofit corporation. Its original 36 members included production executives and film luminaries of the time.
Since 1975, the Academy has been headquartered at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, in a seven-story building that includes the 1,010-seat state-of-the-art Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The Margaret Herrick Library is housed in the historic building that was originally the Beverly Hills Water Treatment Plant on South La Cienega Boulevard. The Academy Film Archive, the Academy’s Science and Technology Council, the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting program and the 286-seat Linwood Dunn Theater are located in the former Don Lee-Mutual Broadcasting studios building on Vine Street in Hollywood.
Scheduled to open in 2018, the Academy Museum will be located next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the historic Wilshire May Company building. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali, the Academy Museum will contain more than 290,000 square feet of state-of-the-art galleries, exhibition spaces, theaters, educational areas, and special event spaces.
During the Academy’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2002, the La Cienega Boulevard building was officially named the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study in honor of the Academy’s first president, and the Vine Street building was dedicated as the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in honor of Academy co-founder Mary Pickford.
Membership in the Academy is by invitation of the Board of Governors and is limited to those who have distinguished themselves in the motion picture industry. The criteria for admittance include: a body of work in motion pictures that reflects the high standards of the Academy, an achievement of unique distinction, or making an outstanding contribution to the motion picture arts or sciences.
Members representing the many professional areas within the motion picture industry are organized into 17 branches – Actors, Casting Directors, Costume Designers, Cinematographers, Designers (which includes production designers and set decorators), Directors, Documentary, Executives, Film Editors, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists, Music, Producers, Public Relations, Short Films and Feature Animation, Sound, Visual Effects and Writers.
Corporate management, control and general policies are administered by the Board of Governors, comprised of representatives from the 17 branches. Governors are elected for three year terms and may serve up to three consecutive terms before taking a one-year mandatory break. Officers are elected from among the governors for one-year terms. The elected positions are president, first vice president, three vice presidents, treasurer and secretary. Officers may serve up to four consecutive one-year terms in the same office. Cheryl Boone Isaacs was reelected president in August 2016.
The Board of Governors appoints a chief executive officer to supervise the administrative activities of the Academy. CEO Dawn Hudson and a staff of more than 300 currently conduct the Academy’s day-to-day business.
89th Oscars Information
- Number of features eligible for Best Picture this year (89th Oscars, 2016) is 336
- Number of features eligible for Best Picture last year (88thOscars, 2015) was 305
- Number of countries submitting foreign language films 85
- Number of voting members 6,687 (as of 12/21/16)
- Number of ushers / ticket takers inside the Dolby™ Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® is 60
- Number of Red Carpet fan bleacher seats 735
- Number of people who work in the Oscar® telecast production office Approx. 250
- Number of production vehicles / trailers (including press and catering) Approx. 100
- Number of crew members working during the telecast Approx. 270
- Telecast rating and share for 88th Oscars Rating: 19.4 Share:
- How many Americans watched the 88th Oscars? (estimate) Average U.S. audience: 34.4 million
- Number of countries in which the 89th Oscartelecast will be seen is more than 225
- Estimated global viewership of 89th Oscars Several hundred million
- Number of Oscar statuettes given out at the 88th Oscars was 46
- Number of competitive award categories for the 89th Oscars is 24
- Awards presented at the Governors Awards on November 12th, 2016 | Honorary Awards (Oscar statuettes) to Jackie Chan, Anne V. Coates, Lynn Stalmaster and Frederick Wiseman
A Brief History of the Oscar®
Shortly after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was incorporated in 1927, a dinner was held in the Crystal Ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to discuss the goals of the new organization. One of those goals was devising a method to honor outstanding achievements, thus encouraging higher levels of quality in all facets of motion picture production.
At one of the many meetings in the following weeks, MGM art director Cedric Gibbons sketched the figure of a knight gripping a sword, standing in front of a reel of film. The five spokes of the reel stood for the original five branches of the Academy – actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers – and the sword symbolized protection for the welfare and advancement of the industry. The design was immediately adopted by the Board of Directors and graced the cover of the November 1927 issue of the Academy magazine. In early 1928, Gibbons chose Los Angeles sculptor George Stanley to realize his design in three dimensions.
Together they discussed the design concept – no live models or sketches were used – and Stanley worked up several versions from which Gibbons selected one. In the finished design, the figure of the knight was streamlined and the film reel moved beneath its feet. The now iconic statuette was born. Since the initial awards banquet on May 16, 1929, in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Blossom Room, over 3,000 statuettes have been presented. Each January, additional new golden statuettes are hand-cast in bronze by New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry before receiving its 24-karat gold finish by Epner Technology, a renowned high-tech specification electroplating company in Brooklyn.
The statuette stands 131/2 inches tall and weighs a robust 81/2 pounds. The design of the statuette has never changed from its original conception, but the size of the base varied until the present standard was adopted in 1945. Officially named the Academy Award® of Merit, the statuette is better known by its nickname, Oscar, the origins of which aren’t clear. A popular story has been that Academy librarian and eventual executive director Margaret Herrick thought it resembled her Uncle Oscar and said so, and that the Academy staff began referring to it as Oscar. In any case, by the sixth Awards presentation in 1934, Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky used the name in his column in reference to Katharine Hepburn’s first Best Actress win. The Academy itself didn’t use the nickname officially until 1939.
The 15 statuettes presented at the initial ceremonies were gold-plated solid bronze. Within a few years the bronze was abandoned in favor of britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy, which made it easier to give the statuettes their smooth finish. Because of the metals shortage during World War II, Oscars® were made of painted plaster for three years. Following the war, all of the awarded plaster figures were exchanged for gold-plated metal ones.
Achievements in up to 24 regular categories will be honored on February 26, 2017, at the 89th Oscars® presentation at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®. However, the Academy won’t know how many statuettes it will actually hand out until the
envelopes are opened on Oscar Night® . Although the number of categories will be known prior to the ceremony, the possibility of ties and of multiple recipients sharing the prize in some categories makes the exact number of Oscar statuettes to be presented unpredictable. As in previous years, any surplus awards will be housed in the Academy’s vault until next year’s event.
Except in years when the Academy created a publicity event out of the delivery of the Oscars to Los Angeles, they normally were sent over land by common carrier. However, in 2000, only a few weeks before the presentation date, that year’s shipment of Oscars was stolen from the overland carrier’s loading dock. They were recovered a week later, but not before some nerve-wracking days had passed. Since then, the Academy has kept an additional ceremony’s-worth of statuettes on hand.
The Oscar statuette is the most recognized award in the world. Its success as a symbol of achievement in filmmaking would doubtless amaze those who attended that dinner more than 80 years ago, as well as its designer, Cedric Gibbons.
It stands today, as it has since 1929, without peer, on the mantels of the greatest filmmakers in history.
The Oscar® Statuette
- Total number of Oscar statuettes presented since the first Oscars 3,048 (includes the 4 Oscars® presented at the Governors Awards event on November 12th, 2016)
- Height of Oscar statuette 13½ inches
- Diameter of Oscar statuette base 5¼ inches
- Weight of Oscar statuette 8½ pounds
- Design: A stylized figure of a knight holding a crusader's sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes signifying the five original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers). No model was used during the design process.
History of the Oscars® Presentation
When the first Academy Awards® were handed out on May 16, 1929, at an Academy banquet in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, movies had just begun to talk. The attendance was 270 and guest tickets cost $5. It was a long banquet, filled with speeches, but presentation of the statuettes was handled expeditiously by Academy President Douglas Fairbanks.
The suspense that now touches most of the world at Oscar® time was not always a characteristic of the Awards presentation. That first year, the award recipients were announced to the public three months ahead of the ceremony. For the next decade, the results were given in advance to newspapers for publication at 11 p.m. on the night of the Awards. But in 1940, much to the Academy’s dismay, the Los Angeles Times broke the embargo and announced the winning achievements in its evening edition, which was readily available to guests arriving for the event. As a result, the Academy adopted the sealed-envelope system the next year, and the system remains in use today.
Since the earliest years, interest in the Oscars® has run high, if not at the modern fever pitch. The first presentation was the only one to escape a media audience; by the second year, enthusiasm for the Awards was such that a Los Angeles radio station actually did a live onehour broadcast from the event. The ceremony has had broadcast coverage ever since.
For 15 years the Academy Awards presentations were banquet affairs; after the first gathering at the Hollywood Roosevelt, they were held at the Ambassador and Biltmore hotels. The custom of presenting the statuettes at a banquet was discontinued after the 1942 Awards. Increased attendance and the war had made banquets impractical, and the presentation ceremonies have since been held in theaters. The 16th Awards ceremony was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It was covered by network radio for the first time and broadcast overseas to American GIs. The Awards stayed at Grauman’s for three years, then moved to the Shrine Civic Auditorium. Two years later, in March 1949, the 21st Awards ceremony took place in the Academy’s own Melrose Avenue theater. For the next 11 years, the annual Awards were held at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. It was there, on March 19, 1953, that the Oscars presentation was first televised. The NBC TV and radio network carried the 25th Oscars ceremonies live from Hollywood, with Bob Hope as master of ceremonies, and from the NBC International Theatre in New York with Fredric March making the presentations.
In 1961 the Awards moved to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and changed broadcasters, beginning a 10-year run with the ABC-TV network. In 1966 the Oscars were first broadcast in color. From 1971 through 1975, the NBC TV network carried the Awards. ABC has telecast the show since 1976 and is under contract through 2028.
On April 14, 1969, the 41st Oscars ceremonies moved to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles County Music Center. The Awards remained at the Music Center until 1987, then the ceremonies returned to the Shrine Auditorium for the 60th and 61st Awards. For a dozen years, the event alternated venues – the 62nd, 64th, 65th, 66th, 68th and 71st Awards were held at the Music Center, while the 63rd, 67th, 69th, 70th, 72nd and 73rd were at the Shrine. Since 2002, the Academy Awards have been held at the Dolby Theatre™ (formerly the Kodak Theatre) at Hollywood and Highland Center® in Hollywood.
In the first year, 15 statuettes were presented, including multiple awards for Directing and Writing. In the second year the number of awards was reduced to seven – two for acting and one each for Outstanding Picture, Directing, Writing, Cinematography and Art Direction. Since then, the number of award categories has grown slowly but steadily.
The need for special awards beyond standard categories was recognized from the start. Two were awarded for the 1927/28 year: one went to Warner Bros. for producing the groundbreaking talking picture “The Jazz Singer,” and the other went to Charles Chaplin for producing, directing, writing and starring in “The Circus.”
In 1934 three new regular categories were added: Film Editing, Music Score and Song. That year also saw a vocal campaign to include the un-nominated Bette Davis for her performance in “Of Human Bondage” among the Best Actress nominees, prompting the Academy to allow write-ins on the final ballot. Two years later this practice was specifically disallowed in Academy rules.
The accounting firm of Price Waterhouse signed with the Academy in 1934 and has been employed ever since to tabulate and ensure the secrecy of the results. The ballots for the 89th Awards will be tabulated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the name adopted by the firm in 1998. This is the fifth year the Academy will provide its membership the option to vote either online or by paper ballot.
In 1936 the first Oscars were presented in the Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress categories. The honors went to Walter Brennan for “Come and Get It” and Gale Sondergaard for “Anthony Adverse.”
The first presentation of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award was made in 1937, with the honor going to Darryl F. Zanuck.
The Oscar for Special Effects was added in 1939 and was first won by Fred Sersen and E.H. Hansen of 20th Century-Fox for “The Rains Came.” In 1963 the Special Effects award was split into two: Sound Effects and Special Visual Effects, in recognition of the fact that the best sound effects and best visual effects did not necessarily come from the same film.
In 1941 the documentary film category appeared on the ballot for the first time.
In 1947, even before television increased the rest of the world’s interest in the Awards ceremonies, the Academy brought films from non-English-speaking countries into Oscar’s sphere. That year the first award to honor a foreign language motion picture was given to the Italian film “Shoe-Shine.” Seven more special awards were presented before Foreign Language Film became an annual category in 1956.
In 1948 the Academy gave Costume Design a place on the ballot. The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was established in 1956 and presented that year to Y. Frank Freeman. A regular award for Makeup and the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technological contributions were established in 1981. The newest category, Animated Feature Film, was added in 2001.
There have been only three circumstances that prevented the Academy Awards presentation from going off as scheduled. The first was in 1938, when destructive floods all but washed out Los Angeles and delayed the ceremony one week. In 1968 the Awards ceremony was postponed from April 8 to April 10 out of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who had been assassinated a few days earlier, and whose funeral was held on April 9. In 1981 the Awards were postponed for 24 hours because of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. In 2003, when U.S. forces invaded Iraq the Thursday before the telecast, the show went on, but the red carpet was limited to the area immediately in front of the theater entrance, the red carpet bleachers were eliminated and the bulk of the world’s press was not able to photograph or interview guests as they arrived. In 2004 the red carpet returned in all its glitz and glamour.
Attendance at the Oscars ceremony is by invitation only. No tickets are put on public sale.
OSCAR®, OSCARS®, ACADEMY AWARDS®, ACADEMY AWARD®, A.M.P.A.S.® and “OSCAR NIGHT® are registered trademarks, and the OSCAR statuette is a registered trademark and copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.