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Oscar: Is The "Buzz" A Real Show Killer?

The Oscars are just around the corner--this Sunday night--but many people are buzzing that they don't seem as big of a deal this year. Well, they are still a big deal in Hollywood, and their slightly lower profile makes a lot of sense this year. For one thing, the writers' strike put the fate of the Oscars in jeopardy.

If the strike hadn't resolved itself in time, the Academy Awards could have become a glorified press conference, like the Golden Globes. So that meant the studios didn't pull out the stops started hyping their Oscar fare until closer to the event than usual.

But marketers have been on board for a while. Considered 'the Super Bowl for women' there are few TV events that reach out to such a mass audience. And this year's event--the 80th annual Academy Awards--will bring in more millions for ABC than ever. ABC is charging 7 percent more per 30-second spot than last year, some $1.82 million, putting ABC's total take at over $85 million.

But will as many people be watching this year? That depends if people watch because they've seen one of the best picture nominees. This year's Oscar nominees are more on the artsy end, a far cry from the commercial fare like "Titanic" and "Chicago" that topped the Oscar list in years past. One frontrunner for best picture is "No Country for Old Men," a violent drama which brought in just over $60 million at the domestic box office.

Period drama "Atonement" (beautiful, but quite sad at the end) brought in just under $50 million in the U.S. "There Will be Blood," which is certain to win numerous awards, brought in just $30 million. And "Michael Clayton"--the George Clooney vehicle that rails against corporate malpractice--has a ton of exposure thanks to a Clooney and Warner Bros' marketing effort that catches my eye on nearly every street corner in LA. But its U.S. box office take was just under $50 million. So the rundown reads: Murder ("No Country"), thwarted love ("Atonement"), oil mining and family cruelty ("Blood") and corporate malfeasance ("Clayton"). Perhaps it's no surprise this fare didn't attract the kind of massive audience that goes to see "Spider Man" or "Pirates of the Caribbean."

The best picture nominee with the most critical success is "Juno," a low budget movie that brought in a whopping $125 million in the U.S. alone, which could have a surprise "Little Miss Sunshine"-esque win. The question is whether some of these lower box office movies will affect the viewership of the show itself. My guess? Probably not.

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