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How do you get a ticket to the Oscars? Here are the basics, minus begging and pleading

More than a dozen Oscars statuettes with numbered tags hanging on them by strings
We know how these guys got invited to the Oscars. But how does it work for the people in the audience?
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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How does a person get invited to the Oscars? Getting a ticket has always been tough, and it got tougher in recent years after the academy started acting on a promise to add 1,500 new members to increase the group’s diversity.

Then the pandemic hit, and a tough ticket turned into nigh on impossible to get.

Even though a traditional Academy Awards ceremony will happen at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood this year, unlike 2021’s Union Station affair, a desire for social distancing has cut the number of seats from 3,300 to 2,500. That means a lottery where the academy’s more than 10,000 members can enter for a chance to buy seats is canceled for the second year in a row. The academy said it hoped to bring the lottery back next year.

As for how it works during a regular year, here are the basics, as reported previously by The Times’ awards specialist Glenn Whipp:

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Ahead of Sunday’s 94th Academy Awards, here’s your guide to who’s hosting, who’s nominated, why there’s been controversy, and when and where to tune in.

March 24, 2022

Nominees — in recent years there have been about 200 — each receive a pair of tickets and can request an additional pair. Most of them do, so that accounts for about 800 tickets. So that’s another reason it’s a thrill just to be nominated.

Blocks are also reserved for the show’s broadcast network (ABC), the telecast’s sponsors, production team, accountants, legal team, the media (including The Times), academy museum donors and various dignitaries, such as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Movie studios receive a share that’s proportional, in theory, to the number of nominations their films earn. But in practice, executives from indie studios complain that the major studios receive more than their fair share.

Presenters and hosts each get a pair of tickets as well.

Expect a big morning for ‘Dune’ and Netflix, but probably not Spider-Man.

Feb. 4, 2022

Add it all up, minus the spots that have obstructed views owing to the TV cameras (seat fillers occupy those), and there’s only a few hundred seats remaining for members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. That’s where the lottery usually comes into play.

“We don’t use a hat, but it’s close,” an academy worker familiar with the process told The Times a few years back. “And there are lots of slips of paper.” Of course, the group may have embraced more updated technology since then. Or not.

If none of those methods works, it’s time for members to go into bargaining mode, calling studios, publicists and friends, faux and real. We have no tips there other than don’t bother haggling over seat location.

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You see, the Oscars’ seating chart follows a traditional hierarchy: Recognizable stars dominate the first few rows of the orchestra level, with big-category nominees placed near the aisle or the very front. Nominees in the crafts categories — production design, costumes, sound and the like — are seated farther back, typically resulting in a hike to the stage.

The 94th Academy Awards are Sunday. Here’s how to tune in or livestream the show, which will be hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes.

March 25, 2022

Which brings us to the Dolby’s three mezzanine levels, where beggars who hopefully aren’t choosers have to, in the words of one academy member, “be OK with the thinner oxygen.”

As for you, loyal moviegoer? Come Sunday night, the best seat available will likely be in front of your own TV.

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