Hollywood’s biggest and longest night of the year is upon us. On Sunday, March 4, the 90th Academy Awards will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT, but when will the 2018 Oscars end? Oh, if only that question had a straightforward answer. Your TV provider can say the Oscars will be done three hours after the actual show begins, but you may not want to bank on that one. So uh, sorry if you’re trying to plan your Oscar Sunday evening down to the minute, but it is difficult to determine exactly when the program will wind down. If this live show wants to go on, it will go on… and on and on.
Back in December, ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a decree: The 90th Oscars will commence 30 minutes earlier than usual. So in theory, the show should end 30 minutes earlier than usual, too. But again, this is Oscars we’re talking about. There really isn’t a standard end time for this award show. Like the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards are over when they’re over; the time slot given to the Oscars is more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule.
And sometimes, the Oscars aren’t over when they’re over. Last year, the biggest moment of the night — and one of the biggest moments in Academy Awards history — happened right when it seemed like the program was done. After the Best Picture award was presented to La La Land and the show seemed just about ready to cross the finish line, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz got on the mic and made a shocking, exhilarating, and unprecedented announcement: There'd been a mix-up with the envelopes. The real Best Picture winners weren't on the stage. Hope you hadn't already left your buddy's Oscar party, because this show was not done.
Horowitz held the actual envelope up for the camera to confirm that Moonlight, not La La Land, won Best Picture. And suddenly, it did not feel like we’d been watching the show for hours and hours; this legitimately surprising twist gave the final few minutes of the program a major energy boost. But we had been watching it for hours and hours. Nearly four hours, to be exact — according to IndieWire, the 2017 Academy Awards went three hours and 49 minutes.
But as far as the Oscars are concerned, three hours and 49 minutes is absolutely nothing. As Deadline points out, the 2002 broadcast went — take a deep breath — four hours and 23 minutes. Thankfully, this did not become a trend. (Yes, the Oscars are fun and all, but they sure do start to lose their sparkle when it’s 11:45 p.m. on a Sunday and there are still several awards to be handed out. Award show fatigue is no joke.) There have been some shows, such as 2017’s Oscars, that have stopped just short of the four-hour mark, but on average, the broadcasts since the 74th Academy Awards have clocked in around three and a half hours.
Bearing all of this in mind, it seems reasonable to guesstimate that the 90th Academy Awards will end around 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT.
But again, you can never be too certain with Ye Olde Academy Awards. For all any of us know, this could be the year the show decides it wants to break 2002's record (let's hope not). So, stock up on provisions and what have you. The more pizza rolls, the merrier — especially when you are on hour four of the Academy Awards.