Three hosts. A fan favorite award. Here’s how the Oscars hope to boost ratings this year

Tom Holland as Spider-Man flies through the air with Zendaya as MJ.
This year’s box-office juggernaut “Spider-Man: No Way Home” failed to score a best picture nod but could be a front-runner for the Oscars’ new Twitter fan award.
(Matt Kennedy)

After going without an emcee since 2018, this year’s Academy Awards appear poised to move ahead with not just one but as many as three hosts.

The Times has confirmed that Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes are in final talks to share hosting duties for the 94th Academy Awards, set for March 27. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is expected to formally announce its plans on Tuesday via the ABC morning show “Good Morning America,” declined to comment. Variety broke the hosting news earlier today, following a report last week in The Hollywood Reporter about plans to split the show among three hosts.

For the record:

5:39 p.m. Feb. 14, 20222021 Oscar viewership was 9.85 million, not 10.4 million.

On Sunday, Schumer appeared to tease the news on Instagram with the caption “Big fun news comin.” Reps for Schumer, Hall and Sykes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


The film academy and this year’s Oscars producer, Will Packer, are hoping to boost the show’s flagging ratings, which reached an all-time low in 2021. Recent speculation had centered on “Spider-Man: No Way Home” star Tom Holland, who anchored the year’s biggest box-office success in what was otherwise a dismal year for Hollywood, to emcee the event. But the academy may be banking on three stars being better than one to take on what is often considered a thankless gig.

From ‘Don’t Look Up’ to ‘Drive My Car,’ here’s how Times film critic Justin Chang would vote if he had one of the academy’s preferential ballots. (Don’t worry, he doesn’t.)

Feb. 8, 2022

In a separate — and unprecedented — effort to gin up public interest in the Oscars, the motion picture academy announced Monday that Twitter users will be able to vote on their favorite movie of 2021. The film that earns the most votes will be recognized during the telecast.

Between now and March 3, anyone can vote for their favorite film released last year, regardless of whether it received an Oscar nomination, using the hashtag #OscarsFanFavorite. Votes can be submitted up to 20 times a day. Three Twitter users who participate will be randomly selected to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to present an Oscar at the 2023 ceremony, suggesting the new social-media-generated award is likely here to stay.

The academy is also asking people to submit their all-time favorite movie moments that spurred audiences to burst into cheers in theaters — moments that have been in short supply recently as the pandemic has choked much of the life out of the box office — with the hashtag #OscarsCheerMoment. Winning scenes will be showcased during the show, and five audience members who participate will receive a “For Movie Lovers Only” prize pack, including tickets for a full year of free movies in their choice of theater, streaming subscriptions and exclusive items from the Academy Museum Store.

For the academy, which has long prized its air of exclusivity, the decision to solicit voting from the masses demonstrates a recognition of the steep challenges the organization faces as ratings for the Oscars have steadily dwindled over the past two decades and as movies have been displaced from the center of the cultural conversation. Viewership for 2021’s pandemic-dampened telecast plummeted, with just 9.85 million tuning in to watch the somber, low-budget drama “Nomadland,” released in theaters and on the streaming platform Hulu, earn best picture.

For years, the academy has been trying, with mixed results, to find new ways to connect everyday movie fans to the awards show from which it generates the lion’s share of its revenue. In 2018, the academy announced the creation of a new category for “best popular film,” only to scrap the idea less than a month later after a backlash. At the time, many argued that the addition of a new award to recognize blockbusters would dilute the significance of the awards as a whole.


This year, in the hopes of bringing a wider range of films into the mix, including theatrical crowd-pleasers, the academy committed to having 10 best picture nominees. But among this year’s nominees, only one, “Dune,” managed to gross more than $100 million at the domestic box office, down from five that cleared that benchmark in 2020, as the pandemic has accelerated the ongoing shift away from theatergoing and toward streaming. The year’s biggest box-office hit by far, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” failed to land a best picture nomination, scoring just a single nod for visual effects.

At a moment of deep existential anxiety for both the academy and the film industry as a whole, this year’s Oscars nominations announcement included the participation of fans outside of Hollywood — including pro wrestling star Titus O’Neil, New York firefighters, Detroit healthcare workers and a Tampa, Fla., eighth-grader — hammering home the message that movies still matter.

A complete guide to where you can watch and/or stream all the movies nominated for this year’s Oscars, from ‘Drive My Car’ to ‘Power of the Dog.’

March 25, 2022

The academy’s Twitter campaign also comes as the organization faces a lawsuit from film producer and longtime academy member Michael Shamberg, who is seeking a court order forcing the group’s board to vote on a plan he submitted to overhaul the organization’s approach to social media and institute a new annual member survey.

“The academy doesn’t know how to communicate in 21st century language,” Shamberg, who has called for radical changes to the Oscars, told The Times last year. “They’re going to end up as an institution whose only mission is to preserve the past, with nothing to contribute to the future.”

It remains to be seen how the academy’s new gambit will fare with the public and how the chaos of the internet will interface with the carefully maintained elegance of the Oscars. On Twitter, some users responded to the announcement by predicting that social media’s most ardent and aggressive fans could skew the voting in favor of, say, director Zack Snyder’s cut of the divisive superhero film “Justice League” or that many might simply use the contest as a way to troll the academy.

Author and film journalist Mark Harris expressed his own deep skepticism about the announcement on Twitter, writing, “Stop trying to make the Oscars appeal to people who hate the Oscars. Talk to fans of the show about why they watch and what they like. LISTEN TO THEM. Do a broadcast that is confident, not needy. And don’t beg.”


Still, the academy has clearly decided that it has little to lose and much to gain in trying to boost the public’s engagement with the show in any way it can.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Twitter to help build an engaged and excited digital audience leading up to this year’s ceremony,” Meryl Johnson, the academy’s vice president of digital marketing, said in a statement. “The Oscars are an opportunity to bring people around the world together through their shared movie love, and through these activations social media users around the world now have more opportunities to engage with the show in real-time, find a community and be a part of the experience in ways they’ve never been able to before.”