The History of The Oscars Academy Awards : The Indicator from Planet Money It's almost time for The Oscars! We look back at the founding of The Oscars, and how it propelled the American movie industry to the prominence it holds today.
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The Origin Of The Oscars

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The Origin Of The Oscars

The Origin Of The Oscars

The Origin Of The Oscars

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/990329880/990395122" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The 2021 Oscars are coming up, but will people still be watching? Like many awards ceremonies this year, it probably won't be the same over-the-top glamorous affair award shows usually offer. The Academy Awards, however, is more than just glitz and glamor — it's actually one of the key reasons the movie industry became such an economic powerhouse in the first place.

The Oscars origin story is one of a group of scrappy outsiders, who used the award show to take over the American entertainment industry. At the center of our tale is one man, Louis B. Mayer, a Hollywood mogul who created The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and its award show to placate the Hollywood writers and actors who made movies possible and popular.

While the awards show started small, The Oscars took off, hitting peak viewership in 1998 with 55 million viewers. This was right around the time when a couple of tech industry outsiders were setting their sights on the glamorous world of Hollywood: We're talking about Netflix of course. While it may have started as a mail-order DVD service, it's become a juggernaut in the entertainment industry over the past decade. History seems to be repeating itself today, as Netflix plans to use The Oscars as a launch pad in their bid for control of the silver screen.

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