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Sunday night's Oscars telecast was a ratings dud, with viewership falling below 10 million for the first time ever, but the reaction from movie theater owners, and other in-person entertainment operators pummeled by the pandemic, was wild applause.

Behind the scenes: 2020 was supposed to be the year that streaming killed cinemas, as we'd all become enamored with watching new feature films from the couch. But most of us didn't, as reflected by the record-low Oscars ratings.

A big reason we watch award shows is to see if the art we loved was also loved by others, and rewarded. But if you didn't watch in the first place, then there's no emotional attachment.

Investment angle: AMC stock rose yesterday and is up again today.

  • Altamont Capital Partners and Fortress Investment Group yesterday became almost certain to buy Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as no rival bidder emerged. Altamont was an existing backer, and had pursued the bankruptcy as a restructuring mechanism when revenue disappeared and PPP loans ran out.
  • Endeavor is set to go public later this week, aiming at a valuation north of $10 billion. It doesn't operate theaters, but it represents lots of movie stars and has a large live events business that would benefit from a return of in-person entertainment.

A big question is if studios like Warner Brothers will revive the old theater exclusivity window or try to leverage some big-budget films to salvage the new normal. Or if there's a short-term bifurcation in how studios treat U.S. and international audiences, as COVID continues to ravage other countries.

The bottom line: Studios had their big chance to go direct, and it didn't really seem to work. Investment firms will pay heed, on both sides of the equation.

Go deeper

Apr 26, 2021 - Economy & Business

Oscars ratings plummet to record low

Photo by Richard Harbaugh/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

Fewer than 10 million people tuned into the Academy Awards on ABC this year, a new all-time low for the show, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: Ratings for award shows have been hit hard during the pandemic, but there's no question that Sunday's sleepy telecast contributed significantly to the fallout.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

FTX CEO predicts more U.S. crypto flight

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

FTX doesn't look much like a company valued at $25 billion. Its new headquarters, located in a sleepy part of The Bahamas, is so nondescript as to not even have a sign. But it does expect to soon have neighbors.

Driving the news: Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tells "Axios on HBO" to expect "more and more crypto flight from the states" if the U.S. doesn't soon create a regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies.

Developed countries reveal $100 billion climate finance plan ahead of COP26

Alok Sharma, head of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, speaks in Paris on Oct. 12. ( Li Yang/China News Service via Getty Images)

After 12 years of fits and starts, industrialized nations on Monday put forward a detailed plan to provide at least $100 billion annually in climate aid to developing countries starting by 2023.

Why it matters: The plan, presented by representatives of Canada and Germany, is aimed at defusing one of the biggest sources of tension at COP26, which is the failure of industrialized nations to follow through on their financial commitments.