Oscars 2024: Ratings Climb To Almost 20 Million As Oppenheimer Rules

Wins for Oppenheimer, live musical performances from Barbie and an (almost) naked John Cena helped lift Oscars ratings for a third consecutive year, early viewing figures showed Monday, as 19.5 million tuned in to watch Hollywood’s big night. Broadcaster ABC’s figure for Sunday night’s well-reviewed gala was nearly double the pandemic-era ratings nadir of 10.4 million, though still historically low for a telecast that regularly topped 40 million just a decade ago. Christopher Nolan’s atomic bomb drama Oppenheimer ended the 96th Academy Awards with seven prizes, including best picture, best director and best actor for Cillian Murphy, while “Poor Things” earned four as its star Emma Stone prevailed in a tense best actress race.

Highlights of the night included Ryan Gosling’s live performance of Barbie ballad I’m Just Ken, another accomplished hosting stint by Jimmy Kimmel, and wrestler/actor Cena’s mock-reluctant presentation of the best costume design prize while wearing only his birthday suit.

Other standout musical performances came from Billie Eilish – the 22-year-old became the youngest person ever to win two Oscars, after collecting best song for another “Barbie” tune in What Was I Made For? – and Native American musicians featured in Killers Of The Flower Moon.

The upward ratings trend is a welcome shot in the arm for live award shows, which have been shedding viewers more broadly as they compete for eyeballs with streamers and social media highlight clips.

This year’s Oscars benefited from having two giant-grossing smash hits – Oppenheimer and Barbie, the so-called “Barbenheimer” phenomenon — in the mix for multiple awards.

But the show itself also received plaudits, with the Los Angeles Times praising a “rowdy, raucous Oscars” that managed to mix humor and a poignant celebration of movie history – with a few political zingers thrown in for good measure.

Among the millions who tuned in to Sunday night’s telecast was Donald Trump. The former US president, facing multiple criminal indictments, posted a scathing review on social media, which Kimmel read out on stage toward the end of the show.

“Thank you President Trump. Thank you for watching, I’m surprised you’re still up – isn’t it past your jail time?” Kimmel joked, prompting raucous cheers and laughs from the audience.

There were also heartfelt references to Hollywood’s recent union strikes, the Gaza conflict, and the war in Ukraine.

The night ended on a bizarre and confusing note, when Al Pacino revealed the best picture winner without first listing the nominees, as is customary.

Opening the envelope, he mumbled “my eyes see ‘Oppenheimer?'” leaving the audience momentarily confused as to whether the film had actually won. On Monday, Pacino released a statement saying the decision to keep the night’s biggest announcement brief by not naming the other nominated films was taken by the show’s producers.

But on a largely smooth night, Variety singled out Gosling’s musical performance as a “maximalist, infectiously goofy singalong.”

The crowd-pleasing karaoke moment was “the ideal way to channel the feel-good energy of an Oscars where none of the bonhomie felt forced, as it often can,” said the film industry website.

​Christopher Nolan’s atomic bomb drama Oppenheimer ended the 96th Academy Awards with seven prizes  

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