The Oscars, which included performances by Janelle Monae and Eminem this year, reportedly took a ratings hit by 20 percent from a year ago, to an average TV audience of 23.6 million total viewers.
Hollywood has embraced diversity on-screen, but progress has been much slower off-screen.
The psychological thriller "Joker", with Joaquin Phoenix in the Batman villain title role, leads the way with 11 nominations, followed by crime flick "The Irishman" and comedy-drama "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."
Only Sony Pictures' "Little Women," an adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel by an all-female production team, broke the mold with its best picture nod.
"Joker" narrowly bested "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" to regain the No 1 spot at the weekend box office in its fourth week of release.
Amid fears that the film might inspire violence, some theatres provided extra security for the opening night.
A police spokeswoman says that while there have been no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, "the department will maintain high visibility around movie theaters when (the film) opens" next week.
The much-hyped new Joaquin Phoenix film, billed as a "character study" of Batman's nemesis, has been hailed as an Oscar contender but has raised concerns that its depiction of mental illness and violence could prove incendiary.
Todd Phillips' dark comic book film "Joker" has won the Golden Lion Award at the 76th Venice International Film Festival.
In the 70th Cannes festival, the nine-member jury awarded the trophy to the movie's director, Ruben Ostlund.
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