By: Courtney I've been thinking this over for a couple of days, and I've put my finger on what was wrong with this year's Academy Awards show, which aired on Sunday. It wasn't Sacha Baron Cohen's performance art on the red carpet or Billy Crystal's surgically smoothed skin. What went wrong at the Oscars is this: the show and the people it honors ignored their customers. Today, I can watch a film on my iPad, my laptop or even my phone. I can order a movie OnDemand. I can buy a DVD for 12 bucks and let everyone I know watch it. If I were a less scrupulous person, I could download a pirated copy of a movie from the Internet, and none of the people who made it would get a dime from me. Hollywood had my attention (more or less) on Sunday night, and there were few compelling pitches to me – the customer – about why I should continue to invest in the experience of going to the movies. “Nothing takes the sting out of these tough economic times like watching a bunch of millionaires giving golden statues to each other,” host Billy Crystal joked. But I'm betting that line was funnier in the theater than it was at home, where viewers might have appreciated more recognition that none of those statues would matter if we all stayed home and made popcorn in our kitchens. I enjoy going to the movies. I shell out the money for tickets. I buy overpriced candy at the concession stand even though I was raised to smuggle in cheaper snacks in my coat pockets. I do all this because I love the experience of the theater, of getting lost in a great story in a way that can be hard when I'm watching it on a three-inch screen propped up on a treadmill at my gym. But fewer of Hollywood's customers are making the same choices. Oscar winners thanked each other on Sunday. They thanked adorable dogs and they thanked “the whole world,” which has a ring of the disingenuous to it. But few specifically mentioned their customers, who are essential to the success of the whole enterprise. For any prospect on the fence or any viewer who had walked away, Sunday night's big sales pitch was a lost opportunity.
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