Hollywood prepares for the biggest Oscar night in two years

The 94th Academy Awards are back at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, after a more intimate downtown gathering (at Union Station) due to pandemic restrictions last year. This has been really good news for the many businesses that profit due to Tinseltown’s biggest night.

With red carpet events being back in full force, the fashion/jewelry industry is booming again, noted celebrity jewelry stylist/expert Michael O’Connor.

“Prior to the pandemic, the Oscars red carpet was a place where you could not only showcase your styling expertise, but also use pieces from various fashion houses, jewelry designers and accessories designers to bring a vision to life, thereby creating numerous publicity opportunities for the brands themselves,” O’Connor explained. 

“But when Covid hit, it became an extremely challenging time. With little to no in person celebrity events happening, celebrities wore what they had available for the most part. So to see this new business is a return to a true celebration.”

O’ Connor, a jewelry creator whose designs are now available at The Danbury Mint UK, has already heard styling requests from three Oscar attendees just in the last week.

“Since hair salons were held to limited capacities and at times being closed unexpectedly due to spikes in pandemic cases, many hairstylists had to resort to house calls or at-home root touch up kits just stay afloat,” said celeb hairstylist Erick Orellana

“But now that red carpet events like the Oscars are finally happening again, we are seeing much more business at the salon from Hollywood publicists, event coordinators, planners, agents, and managers,” said Orellana, who prior to the pandemic, had created Kristin Wiig’s newly platinum blonde pixie look for her Oscars co-hosting gig. 

Added celebrity hair salon owner Cristophe: “With restrictions eased, people want to look their best again, which actually generates a larger volume of big color jobs and hair styles. It’s an optimistic time.”

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Sequoia Productions’ Cheryl Cecchetto has produced the Oscars Governors Ball for the past 32 years, with the exception of last year, when it was cancelled due to Covid. She has been grateful that live events like the Academy Awards have found their way back onto the Hollywood calendar.

 “The past two years have been a huge challenge, and in 2021, we missed producing the Ball terribly,” Cecchetto noted. “I felt badly for all the movie industry people who couldn’t celebrate together, because the Ball is very much an annual movie industry family reunion hosted by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.”

She continued: “Even as the band strikes up and the champagne glasses are clinking, make no mistake that there are deals being made amongst all those gowns and tuxedos.”

Celebrity gifting organizer Lash Fary, whose company, Distinctive Assets, independently delivers the “Everyone Wins” Gift Bags–worth $138,000– to Oscar co-hosts and nominees in the top 5 acting and directing categories, has noticed many more brands participating.  

“The pandemic made our celebrity gifting efforts even more well-received than usual. This is a banner year due to a general sense of renaissance for so many brands who finally felt a return to normalcy in a post pandemic world,” said Fary, whose marketing company has been in business for the past 20 years. “My revenue increased by 50%.” 

For his in person, “eBay & GBK Brand Bar Pre-Oscar Luxury Lounge,” celebrity gifting organizer Gavin Keilly is giving nominees $85,000 in gifts. “This is our largest bag in the last 10 years. We are also inviting nominees from the SAG awards, Critics Choice, and the Golden Globes, all of whom missed out on a suite due to the pandemic.”

With the economic hardship felt by many businesses, and not being able to have a gifting suite during the height of Covid, Keilly started the GBK Brand Bar, which gave brands a brick and mortar presence at Kimpton La Peer, a boutique hotel in West Hollywood, California.

Keilly has always considered himself to be a curator, which gave him an intriguing marketing idea. “Due to the inability of producing events during the pandemic, we created an opportunity so companies could sell their products in a unique hotel gift shop. In this way, brands could grow their audience, with the added benefit of showcasing their products, not only to top talent and influencers, but to sophisticated shoppers and global travelers. Things were tough during the last two years. but we certainly made it work.”

The Academy Awards moving from downtown Los Angeles back to the city of Hollywood has excited Hollywood Chamber of Commerce vp Ana Martinez

“The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is thrilled that the Oscars are back in the area, as the show brings revenue to many restaurants, shops and hotels as well as fashion houses, which I’m sure are having great offers for the big weekend,” Martinez said.

The fact that the event is in the middle of the busiest part of Hollywood– at the Dolby and on the Walk of Fame– makes it even more profitable, as many tourists flock to see the red carpet setup, which Martinez described as “quite extensive.”

One way for brands to feel connected to the Oscars is by creating a viewing party for customers to participate in. Just down the street at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for example, the venue is charging $300 per person for their annual dinner. Occupancy for the weekend is  projected to sell out and is currently at 90 per cent occupancy.

“This year’s Oscars viewing party at The Hollywood Roosevelt is a celebration of both our legacy as the location of the first Academy Awards (in 1929) and the return of one of Hollywood’s most talked about parties,” said managing director Don Jacinto. “In addition to the networks that use our hotel as a home base for their Oscars coverage and the high-profile guests who stay at the hotel during this time, we are expecting a big increase in foot traffic into our new restaurant concepts – The Barish, The Lobby and The Rosy Café – as people seek out unique dining experiences once again.” 

Donelle Dadigan, founder/president of the nearby Hollywood Museum, is “so happy” to see her venue open again, enabling movie fans to buy admission tickets. 

“The fans have an insatiable need to learn more about their favorite films. As ‘Being the Ricardos’ is one of the Oscar-nominated films, we have noticed immense interest in our Lucille Ball room, which features some fascinating items. We will soon be debuting a film exhibit with the costumes that Nicole Kidman (Lucille Ball), Javier Bardem (Desi Arnaz), J.K. Simmons (William Frawley) and Nina Arianda (Vivian Vance) wore.”

Dadigan noted that in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, people come from all over the world to the museum to see the Oscar statues they have on display. “They love seeing the props, costumes, artifacts etc. from their favorite movies.” 

During the pandemic, Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics and California Center, said a number of Hollywood- related businesses were hit hard.

“There were disruptions in tourists, in business, and significant restrictions and prohibitions on the events that provide them with their revenue streams,” Klowden told BBC.com

“Those impacted included tourist and gift businesses around Hollywood and Highland, (shopping center) catering companies, restaurants, hotels and numerous others. Having not only the Oscars return, but several other award shows, is incredibly important for their sustainability.”

Klowden said the prestigious awards event helps with exposure, merchandise tie ins, especially at Hollywood and Highland, and with tourism. 

“They also bring in a great deal of ancillary business leading up to and after the awards. They hinder by the security and traffic impacts, which shut down the blocks around the awards and cause business to be lost in the days leading up to the actual ceremony.”