Will Packer, the producer of this year’s Oscars telecast, said the annual celebration of movies is working to create a more streamlined and television-friendly experience. It’s one that will embrace social media, with Packer telling journalists on Thursday that allowing fans to vote on their favorite movie of the year on Twitter will help democratize the experience. As part of that effort a special award, dubbed the Oscars fan favorite prize, will be handed out on Sunday.
“It just helps to augment what is already a show that’s all about elevating the best of community building,” said Packer. “It creates a two-way dialogue and is more inclusive because the Oscars always felt so stuffy and so one-percenter.”
But some of Packer’s moves have been controversial. Among the changes to the telecast is a decision to present eight categories, including awards for sound, documentary short, and editing, before the live event begins airing. Clips of the winners’ speeches will then be edited into the show. Packer pushed back at reporting that suggested that these awards were being cut from the telecast.
“Everybody on this stage values every last category, every last area,” he said. “These are our peers. These are the people that we work with and people that we love, and we want to make sure that everybody has their moment on this show and is handled with the same reverence and elegance that you’ve come to expect with the Oscars.” He added, “One of the misperceptions is that things are being taken off the show and that’s not the case, it’s not.”
Packer pointed out the show would in fact be a four-hour ceremony with the first hour starting before the live telecast. “We want to have everyone there with their peers cheering them on. The televised show starts an hour after that, but everybody who wins an award and everybody who’s nominated is going to have their moment on the show.”
He went on to say, “We’re going to make sure that everybody has their moment because at the end of the day, it’s an entertaining show. We want to be celebratory and fun, but it is about celebrating the most talented people in the world and what they do, and we’re determined to do that and do it the right way.”
Packer’s comments came as part of a virtual presentation, during which he was flanked by fellow producer, Shayla Cowan, hosts Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, director Glenn Weiss, production designer David Korins and music director Adam Blackstone. Amy Schumer, who will also emcee the broadcast, did not attend because she was sick. They assured reporters that the comic did not have COVID.
The theme of the 2022 Academy Awards, the 94th edition, is “Movie Lovers Unite.” Packer says the creative team plans on creating a spectacle that celebrates and embraces movie lovers.
“Movies are the one thing that unites so many of us as a global community,” Packer said. “If you’re somebody that loves all the movies that are nominated this year, and we’ve got some amazing ones. [Or] If you’re somebody that hasn’t seen any of them and you watched ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ five times, the point is that movies make you feel something. They can inspire you and they can make you aspire.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences returns to the Dolby Theater this year after relocating to L.A’s Union Station last year due to the pandemic. Emmy–winning set designer David Korins provided some insight into his plans with an aesthetic that is about inclusivity, community, and a world that boldly and unapologetically glows with positivity from the inside.
Korins has been nominated for three Tony Awards, and won an Emmy for his work on 2016’s “Grease Live,” and designed the set for the 2019 Academy Awards. He assembled an all-star team of art directors, illustrators and crafts people to add in bold gestures of “things that felt implicitly dynamic with an immersive feel.”
Last year’s broadcast, the lowest-rated in modern times, departed from tradition by having the best actor prize as the final award of the evening. It was a decision that backfired when Anthony Hopkins scored an upset win for “The Father” over Chadwick Boseman’s performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which would have been a chance to honor the actor’s life and legacy. Boseman died in 2020 at the age of 43.
But Sunday’s telecast will end the night with best picture being awarded. Some things don’t need to be changed, it would seem.