Oscars adds ‘fan favourite’ prize, voted for by fans on Twitter

  • The move is an attempt to lure viewers back to the awards show after films like ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ and ‘No Time To Die’ failed to earn major nominations
  • A separate poll will ask voters to choose their favourite movie cheer moment
Agence France-Presse |

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Next month’s Oscars will include a new “fan favourite” prize for the year’s most popular film, as voted for by Twitter users. Photo: AFP

Next month’s Oscars will include an unofficial new “fan favourite” award for the year’s most popular film as voted for by Twitter users, organisers said on Monday, as they seek to lure viewers back to a ceremony that has seen audiences plummet.

The announcement – which will be made during the 94th Academy Awards telecast on March 27 – comes after several crowd-pleasing blockbusters, including Spider-Man: No Way Home and the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, failed to earn Oscar nominations in major categories, including best picture.

Their omission raised fears that many movie fans will skip the show. But 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 honoured on the night.

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Television ratings for the Oscars have declined dramatically in recent years. Last year’s edition, which mainly honoured smaller art house movies such as best picture winner Nomadland, was watched by just over 10 million viewers – a 56 per cent decline from 2020, which was already a record low.

As Oscars voters have increasingly drifted away from more mainstream fare, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has toyed with various reforms to boost the ceremony’s popularity.

In 2018, organisers proposed a “popular film” Oscar to honour blockbuster movies such as the Star Wars franchise or Marvel films.

Despite rave reviews and its immense success, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” didn’t receive any Oscar nominations. Photo: Sony Pictures/TNS

But it swiftly shelved those plans after critics ridiculed the move, and the new “fan favourite” award will not be a formal Oscar category.

Meryl Johnson, the Academy’s vice-president of digital marketing, said the move would 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.”

Twitter’s Sarah Rosen said the collaboration was “an exciting way to further engage movie fans and celebrate their love and passion for the films released this year.”

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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.

A separate poll will ask voters to choose their favourite “movie cheer moment.” The five most popular choices – billed as scenes where “audiences couldn’t help but erupt into cheers in the cinema” – will be shown during the Oscars.

Next month’s awards will return to the ceremony’s traditional Dolby Theatre venue in Hollywood. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 Academy Awards were held at a Los Angeles train station.

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