10 Secrets Behind the Oscars Ceremony You Never Knew
The Oscars are regarded as a prestigious event — an occasion where the crème de la crème of the entertainment industry receive the recognition and accolade that they deserve. But behind the glitz and glamour of the stage lights and elegant gowns, are interesting secrets and details about the ceremony. This information does not get as much spotlight as other Oscar-related topics, but they do make the Academy Awards more intriguing.
Today, Bright Side will be lifting the veil on some of these relatively unknown tidbits, and they could make you see the Oscars in a different light the next time you watch them.
1. The red carpet is not red — it’s a secret color that is exclusive to the Oscars.
Oddly enough, the most famous red carpet event in the world doesn’t have a red carpet, but more like a burgundy one. The shade has been exclusively called “Academy Red,” but the exact specifications of its color are kept a secret to avoid copycats. According to the organizers, the hue is supposed to be flattering for the A-listers who are photographed or filmed walking on it.
It takes a crew of about 18 people and 900 man-hours to roll out the iconic carpet that traces the path to the Dolby Theatre. Aside from serving as a glamorous backdrop for the Hollywood celebs, the carpet also guides them where to go and prevents them from slipping along the way.
2. Nominees get a pair of complimentary tickets, but they must pay for their additional guests.
In his guesting on The Late Late Show With James Corden, movie star Antonio Banderas revealed that while nominees get two free passes (one for themselves and one for a guest), bringing extra company may cost up to $750 each.
Corden responded in jest, saying it sounds absurd to pay “$750 to watch a group of millionaires give each other gold statues.” And Banderas further exposed that it was already the discounted rate for individuals who had a part in the event. Random people may need to pay a heftier price tag for a seat at the Oscars.
3. Actor nominees are chosen based on the top 5 rankings given by the Academy members.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the Oscars, is composed of various “branches,” which also serve as the categories for the awards — actors, directors, costume designers, film editors, etc. And members of each group are responsible for nominating the people in their field.
But when it comes to the Best Picture award, all members of the Academy are asked to vote, regardless of their branch. Meanwhile, nominations for the four acting categories are done by asking the actor members to submit a list of their top 5 favorite performances. The ballots are then tallied, and those who get enough “first place” votes in the rankings become nominees.
4. The seating arrangement follows a hierarchy, and expected winners are placed in a special spot.
The closer you are to the stage, the more important you are. The biggest names get the front row seats, and those who are favored to win are positioned in the aisle, so they can avoid crossing through many people on their way to the podium. They are also placed in the area with good lighting, to ensure that cameras would get all their great angles.
Nominees for the same categories are never seated close to one another because it won’t look good if an ecstatic winner and a loser are together in the camera frame. The arrangement is also carefully crafted to avoid unnecessary drama — ex-lovers and rivals are kept far apart.
5. Empty seats during the telecast are not allowed, so fillers are hired to occupy the space.
The ceremony runs for 3 hours, and just like us normal people, celebrities need a bathroom break too. Other actors also leave their seats to mingle with their friends or colleagues during the commercial breaks. If the celebs do not make it back before the cameras start rolling again, there are “seat fillers” on stand by. Their main job is to blend in with the esteemed attendees, and to occupy the gaps.
In a video from the 2015 Oscars, host Neil Patrick Harris exposed these “undercover” substitutes by pointing them out in the crowd. Seat fillers are not paid for the gig, and they are not allowed to chat or take selfies with the Hollywood A-listers. They are also required to follow a strict dress code: no sparkles, no short dresses, and no bright colors, or anything that would make them stand out.
6. Only two people know who the winners are before the envelopes are opened.
According to the Oscars website, the final balloting is done online, and only two people from the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are privy to the results. These two stand on either side of the stage during the awarding, and hand out the precious envelopes to the presenters.
At the 2017 Oscars, the wrong envelope was handed to the “Best Picture” presenters. The mistake was immediately corrected on stage, but it smeared the Academy’s perfect announcement streak, which lasted for 88 years.
7. Oscar winners do not receive a cash prize, but they can boost their earnings by up to 60%.
The winners receive zero cash from the Academy, but their achievement still pays off in other ways. According to one article, Best Actors and Actresses can get a 20% pay increase in their next project. They are also most likely to be the top pick of directors and production companies. In some cases, actors have grown their earnings by up to 98% after taking home an Oscar.
Two-time consecutive Academy awardee Tom Hanks reportedly earned $7 million when he filmed for the movie Forrest Gump in 1993. After winning his second Best Actor trophy in 1994, Hanks continued to star in noteworthy films and received nominations and recognitions from various award-giving bodies. His current net worth has now blown up to $400 million.
8. There’s a “consolation” bag for other nominees, and it’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s called an “Everybody Wins” bag, and it contains luxurious freebies for selected nominees. Back in 2020, the swag bag was valued at $225,000, and in the recent 2022 Oscars, it amounted to over $137,000. The handouts included a $50,000 three-night stay at Turin Castle in Scotland, complimentary liposuction procedures, thousands of dollars worth of home renovations, beauty treatments, and life coaching sessions.
The founder of the company that supplies it said that some bags are delivered to the celebs’ hotels, while other actresses ask for theirs to be shipped abroad. Penélope Cruz, for example, had it sent to Madrid, and Dame Judi Dench had the goodie bag flown to the United Kingdom.
9. The Academy makes pre-engraved plaques for all the nominees and just screws on the winner’s plate after the event.
The Oscars organizers produce more trophies than the actual number of categories, to make room for ties or multiple recipients. But since the envelopes are still sealed, the statuettes remain blank.
An Oscar engraver disclosed that they do not have time to carve the names on the spot, so they make plaques for each nominee prior to the event. After the ceremony, the winners are asked to have their trophies marked at the Governor’s Ball. The process of screwing in the pre-produced plaque just takes about 5 minutes, which gives the actors more time to celebrate and cherish their award.
10. The golden Oscar statuette is not made of gold, and is only valued at $1.
We’re sorry to break it to you, but the much-coveted golden trophy is actually bronze. It is, however, plated in 24-karat gold. It stands at 13.5 inches tall, and weighs 8.5 pounds. Another fun piece of trivia, the Oscar wasn’t named after someone famous or significant. The moniker allegedly came from an Academy librarian, who said the trophy looked like her Uncle Oscar. The name stuck and was officially adopted in 1939.
The recipients are not allowed to sell their golden statuettes as well. Oscar regulations require the awardees (and their heirs) who want to dispose of their trophies to offer it to the Academy first for a total of $1. The logic behind the low value is to discourage people from treating the statuettes as a common “article of trade,” and to avoid diminishing its merit.
Which part do you look forward to when you watch the Oscars? What other aspects of the Academy Awards are you curious about?