A $1 statue, 100k goodie bags, and sitting next to Tom Hanks: What you don't know about the Oscars

Jamie Lee Curtis poses with her best supporting actress Oscar for Everything Everywhere All At Once last year. Credit: AP

Words by Lily Ford, ITV News Multimedia Producer

The Academy Awards is showbiz's biggest event of the year.

When else do you get the industry's most talented actors, directors, writers, and more all in one place - all fighting for entertainment's most coveted prize?

You might already be aware of who is tipped for which Oscar, thanks to a telling awards season so far - for example, Cillian Murphy has picked up the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance as the titular role in Oppenheimer.

You may also know that this year is the first time the Oscars' new diversity rules will be implemented.

But what might you not know about the awards? Here are some of the quirkiest Oscar-related questions answered.

Why is the Oscar statuette worth $1?

Each of those iconic, shiny men cost around $500 to produce, made up of a metal plated in copper, nickel, silver, and 24-karat gold.

The Oscars statuettes cost $500 each to produce. Credit: AP

The manufacturing process actually starts a year in advance, to ensure any mistakes can be reversed in time for the big night.

But did you know they are priced at just one single US dollar?

After getting the award, winners are asked to sign a contract that states they cannot sell the prize before first offering it back to the Academy for $1.

If an Oscar-winner dies and passes their award down to their children, they must also abide by the same rules.

If the winner refuse to sign the initial contract, they are not allowed to keep it. But if the Academy does not want it back, they can sell it to whomever they like for whatever price.

The 1938 Oscar of Hollywood icon Bette Davis was sold at an auction for $578,000 (£454,000) in 2001 to an anonymous bidder.

That bidder was later confirmed to be celebrated director Steven Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg, an Oscar winner himself, bought Bette Davis' 1938 award in 2001. Credit: AP

Who are the Oscars' seat-fillers and what are their jobs?

Who's that person sat next to Martin Scorsese's wife? Turns out, it's a stranger.

That's right, you can apply to be an Academy Award seat-filler.

When the camera pans to the star-studded crowd, organisers don't want any gaps or empty seats - the ceremony must stay bustling, fun, and - above all - engaging.

So when a winner runs up on stage to accept their award, a seat-filler is waiting in the wings to take their spot.

The people in charge use the advert breaks to direct the seat-fillers to the right chair.

The Oscars organisers don't want any gaps in the crowd. Enter: Seat-fillers. Credit: AP

Seat-fillers are also instructed to fill the gap even when guests leave the room to drink, chat, or nip to the loo.

When their services aren't needed, they wait outside the Dolby Theatre, where the ceremony takes place.

And before you ask, nope - you don't get paid. Your payment is that free, golden ticket to the Oscars.

Can you refuse an Oscar?

You can. And three people have done, for varying reasons.

The most famous example is Marlon Brando, who in 1973 refused to accept the best actor award for his role in The Godfather.

Instead, Brando - who was not in attendance - sent up 26-year-old activist, Sacheen Littlefeather, on stage to explain why he was declining to accept.

Sacheen Littlefeather holds up Marlon Brando's speech on why he did not want to accept the best actor award in 1973. Credit: AP

Littlefeather spoke - while the crowd booed - about how Brando's beliefs on the industry's poor treatment of Native Americans led him to reject the prize.

The campaigner died in October 2022, aged 75.

Also on the list is George C. Scott, who simply just did not think much of the ceremony.

He won best actor for his performance in General George S. Patton in 1971, but did not want the win, famously calling the Oscars "a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons."

But the first ever person to refuse an Oscar was screenwriter Dudley Nichols.

In 1936, he won best screenplay for The Informer, set during the Irish War Of Independence, but he did not accept and cited the ongoing Hollywood writers' strike as his reason.

What's in the Oscars goodie bag?

It's hard to imagine a goodie bag worth over $100,000 (£78,575), but that's exactly what each guest will be getting at the end of the night, according to the people behind it.

Named the "Everyone Wins" gift bag, LA-based entertainment marketing company Distinctive Assets has promised an abundance of "swag".

In past years, there have been some ludicrous presents - in 2022, guests were reportedly given an entire plot of land in Scotland.

In 2024, Distinctive Assets have said people will be leaving with a range of surprises, including a portable blender, a seven-day "holistic wellness retreat", 10,000 donated meals in support of animal charity PETA, and a private show with a mentalist.

Javier Bardem and Meryl Streep present the best cinematography Oscar to Linus Sandgren for La La Land. Credit: AP

That's not all - they'll also be getting a three-day trip to a private villa, an in-home clinical sleep consultation, a luxury shoe bag, a portable infrared grill, and an all-inclusive Swiss getaway.

A Scottish chocolate maker, Fiona McArthur, owner of Fetcha Chocolates, said she was "over the moon" after being chosen to make sweet treats for the A-listers' goodie bags this year.

Ms McArthur said she was contacted "out of the blue" on LinkedIn.

The list, shockingly, doesn't end there. The venue seats over 3,000 people - you can do the math.

Are there certain phrases presenters have to say?

There are - up until 1989, each award was announced pre-fixed by: "And the winner is...".

But this statement accrued complaints - nominees felt that it was not fair to peg one person a "winner" and the rest "losers".

The infamous Oscars slap by Will Smith in 2022. The next year, viewership for the ceremony was up by an average of over six million. Credit: AP

Performances, soundtracks, scripts, and everything else are nuanced. It depends on the premise of the film, the tone, and often, the budget.

From the 61st Academy Awards onwards, every single presenter is required to instead say the familiar line: "And the Oscar goes to...".

How much does it cost to get an advert aired during the Oscars ceremony?

It's a spot that everyone wants - and proves a lucrative deal for those in charge. After all, an average of 18.7 million people watched 2023's event.

In 2018, the average cost for a 30-second commercial during the broadcast was $1.6m each.

It then raised to $1.9m in 2017 and in 2022, the average price of a spot aired during the Academy Awards was $2.2m (£1.7m).

The approximate total that the Oscars makes from this advert money is well over $130m (£102m).

The Academy Awards ceremony will air from midnight ITV and ITVX on March 11 in the UK.

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