The 94th Academy Awards this year will be including a new “fan favorite” prize for the year’s most popular film as voted for by Twitter users, in a move to attract viewers back to a ceremony that has seen audiences plunge.
The announcement comes after several crowd-pleasing blockbusters such as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “No Time To Die” failed to earn Oscar nominations in major categories, including best picture.
According to reports, such movie’s omission raised fears that many fans will skip the show. However, any film released in 2021 can be voted for in the new category using the Twitter hashtag #OscarsFanFavorite or via the Academy’s website, raising the chances of a blockbuster being honored on the night.
In recent years, television ratings for the Oscars have dramatically declined. For instance, last year’s edition, was watched by just over 10 million viewers, a 56 percent decline from 2020, which was already a record low.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been experimenting with various reforms to boost the ceremony’s popularity, as voters have increasingly drifted away from more mainstream fare.
Organizers in 2018, proposed a “popular film” Oscar to honor blockbuster movies such as “Star Wars” films or Marvel superhero films that rake in millions at the box office.
However, it swiftly shelved those plans after critics ridiculed the move, and the new “fan favorite” award will not be a formal Oscar category.
The Academy’s vice president of digital marketing, Meryl Johnson, mentioned that the move would help build an engaged and excited digital audience leading up to this year’s ceremony and allow fans 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.
Under the voting conditions, movie fans can vote up to 20 times per day until March 3, and three randomly selected winners will be invited to present an Oscar at next year’s ceremony.