This year, with cinemas mostly closed, and audiences skittish about crowds

Oscar’s box-office bounce this year is a resounding thud.

Most awards seasons find film fans seeking out Best Picture nominees in the run-up to the Academy Awards telecast, with the eventual winner reaping millions of additional dollars post-telecast.

Last year, the literary classic Little Women, the single-shot World War I epic 1917, and the World War II satire Jojo Rabbit all saw big bounces at the box office prior to the telecast. And Parasite, the first foreign language film to win Best Picture, expanded its theatrical run five-fold after the nominations.

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Altogether, that year’s Best Picture nominees earned more than $750 million at North American box offices, and another $1.3 billion overseas, much of it after the nominations were announced.

This year, with cinemas mostly closed, and audiences skittish about crowds, there’s been hardly any business, let alone a bounce. Front-runner Nomadland has taken in a snappy $2.1 million in the U.S. The year’s prestige “blockbuster,” Promising Young Woman, has earned only three times that.

In fact, if you take all eight of the Best Picture nominees and combine their worldwide earnings, the total comes to barely $35 million. That would be an unimpressive figure for one nominee in a normal year.

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The concern for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is that low box office numbers generally translate into low telecast ratings. Viewers of awards shows like to have a rooting interest in the outcome, but audiences haven’t seen this year’s nominees, and the AMPAS worries they simply won’t tune in.

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There are reasons for that concern: Oscar ratings have hit all-time lows in recent years. After hovering for a decade between 32 million and 44 million viewers, the last three years dipped below 30 million for the first time in the telecast’s history, reaching a nadir last year as just 23.6 million viewers saw Parasite become the first film not in English to win Best Picture.

Viewership this year, will almost certainly be lower. By the time of its win, Parasite had already taken in $37 million in just the U.S. — more than the combined totals of all of this year’s nominees worldwide.

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Honda said on Friday it plans to sell only zero-emissions vehicles across all its major markets by 2040, becoming the latest automaker to set a concrete target date for phasing out gas- and diesel-powered engines.

In North America, the Japanese automaker said it would aim for 40% of its salse to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2030 and plans to increase the proportion to 80% by 2035.

The company also pledged to be carbon neutral in its own operations by 2050.

“Honda wants to continue to be a company that people want to exist,” Honda’s new CEO, Toshihiro Mibe, said in a statement. “That is what we want to achieve.”

Mibe — previously the company’s head of research and development — also said the company would strive for “zero traffic collision fatalities” involving its vehicles, leaning on advanced driver-assistance programs to prevent crashes.

Honda has not been at the cutting edge of battery-electric vehicle development; instead, it bet on hydrogen fuel cells as the future of automobiles, only to watch as battery-powered Teslas took off and hydrogen stayed stuck in neutral.

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General Motors Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2040
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General Motors Aims To Be Carbon Neutral By 2040
The company still has hopes for fuel-cell vehicles and includes hydrogen in its plans for future vehicle production. But to accelerate its near-term production of the more popular electric options, Honda is partnering with General Motors, another automaker with an ambitious electrification target.

Using GM’s Ultium batteries, Honda is bringing two new electric SUVs to the U.S. market for model year 2024. Then, in the second half of the decade, Honda plans to bring its own brand-new electric vehicles to market, starting in the U.S.

Concerns over climate change have driven regulators and investors to support electric vehicles and frown on gas- and diesel-powered ones, which emit greenhouse gases for every mile they’re driven. At the same time, batteries have gotten cheaper and electric vehicle ranges have gotten much longer.

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As a result, there’s a global race underway to electrify the auto industry. Tesla, the world’s most popular electric automaker, has a significant head start, but legacy automakers are gearing up for pursuit. GM is aiming to go all-electric by 2035, Volvo by 2030; Ford is giving up gas and diesel in Europe within the decade, and VW is aggressively investing in a switch to batteries, too.

Electric vehicles make up a tiny fraction of the current world fleet, but major industry players now say, with remarkably unanimity, that they are the future of the automobile — a transformation that will require shifts in consumer behavior, major investments by automakers and a massive build-out of global charging infrastructure.

liran vartik

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