Why 22 Oscar Statuettes Could Go Homeless on the Big Night

How does the Academy know how many gold men to bring to the Dolby, and what happens to the leftovers?

Nobody except two accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers knows how many Oscar statuettes the Academy will be handing out at Sunday’s show — and they aren’t going to clue in anybody, even the folks responsible for bringing the Oscar statuettes to the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Blvd.

Although there are a set 24 categories, the number of Oscar winners — human Oscar winners, not films — could be as low as 32 or as high as 54, assuming there are no ties. That is a trophy-handout swing of up to 67 percent.

While we all know that only one person will win in the acting and directing races, other categories like Best Picture, Original Song and Original Screenplay could have a varying number of winners, depending on which nominee comes out on top.

For example, Best Picture nominee “The Revenant” has five producers, all of whom will get a shiny statuette if that film wins. But if the Academy votes for “Room” to receive the top prize, producer Ed Guiney will close the night as the sole recipient, taking home a Best Picture trophy for director Lenny Abrahamson’s drama.

Variations among the categories mean that neither the Academy, the show producers nor the trophy handlers themselves know exactly how many statues will be handed out.

So if you’re the Academy, how many statues do you bring to the Oscars?

“A safe amount,” an Academy insider with knowledge of the trophy tally told TheWrap. The absolute safest would be 54, plus a couple extras in case of ties.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: A general view of the atmosphere at the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

The backstage rack of winners’ trophies in waiting in 2015/ Getty Images

Invariably, though, they bring enough Oscars to wind up with extras at the end of the show. Any surplus statuettes then go back to the Academy’s vault, where they’re kept for the following year and factored into the order for new statuettes for next year’s show.

So while “The Martian” star Matt Damon is widely expected to lose the Best Actor prize to Leonardo DiCaprio this Sunday — Jimmy Kimmel has already touted a possible appearance by “Oscar loser Matt Damon, time permitting” on his post-Oscars special — he could end up with one of this year’s leftover statuettes next February.

(The Damon-produced drama “Manchester by the Sea” has already generated considerable awards buzz since its premiere at Sundance last month.)

One thing we won’t see at this year’s ceremony is any leftovers from last year.

For 2016, the Academy switched its contract, hiring New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry instead of R.S. Owens & Company to manufacture the statuettes. In the process, it also gave the Oscar a mini-makeover to bring the design closer to its original 1929 roots.

That means that the statuettes left over from last year’s ceremony don’t quite match the ones that will be given out this year, so they can’t be reused. The Oscars handed out close to the maximum number of statuettes in 2015, with 45 winners out of a possible maximum of 49 — but if they gave themselves any kind of comfort zone, that still leaves them with a stash of now-moot extra statuettes.

Those Oscars could still find a second life. The Academy said the 2015 surplus will be kept as replacements for any previous winners’ trophies that are damaged beyond repair.

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