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Blockbusters were left in the cold. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” couldn’t overcome the academy’s resistance to the franchise. Nor, more understandably, could “The Hangover Part II,” another 2011 success.

Such snubs tend to produce the TV equivalent of a weak box office: low ratings. When a monster hit like “Titanic” ruled the Oscars in 1998, the ceremony drew an impressive 55.2 million viewers. “The King’s Speech,” last year’s less-mainstream best-picture winner, was watched by 37.9 million people.

There is an effort to boost viewership through social networks. The academy is inviting fans to make awards predictions on its Facebook page and share them with friends, while ABC will use Twitter to reveal the scene backstage and on the red carpet.

At stake are advertising dollars as well as bragging rights in the award show competition. This month’s Grammys _ riding a wave of interest in Adele’s post-surgery comeback and the death of Whitney Houston _ drew nearly 40 million viewers to eclipse the Academy Awards for the first time since 1984.

Forget nominee nervousness: Those anxious giggles may just be from Oscar himself.


AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this report.