Organizers of the Academy Awards have opted for a familiar face to host the upcoming 96th ceremony – Jimmy Kimmel. This marks the fourth time the late-night comedian will lead the prestigious event, scheduled for March 10. Two individuals familiar with the plan, speaking anonymously due to lack of authorization, confirmed the decision.
“I always dreamed of hosting the Oscars exactly four times,” remarked Jimmy Kimmel in a statement.
As of now, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has not responded to requests for comment. The decision to stick with Jimmy Kimmel follows attempts to revitalize the Oscars amid declining ratings. In recent years, the academy and ABC experimented with different hosting formats, including having three hosts in 2022 (Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall, Amy Schumer) and no hosts from 2019 to 2021. For the 2023 show, the academy reverted to a single host – Jimmy Kimmel, who also hosted in 2017 and 2018.
The return to a solo host proved successful, with viewership increasing to nearly 19 million people in 2023, up from 16.6 million the previous year and 10.4 million in 2021, which marked the lowest viewership in history. Prior to 2018, the Oscars telecast had never dropped below 32 million viewers.
Jimmy Kimmel’s return was not only marked by improved viewership but also lacked controversy, in contrast to the 2022 Oscars when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage. The academy and ABC also revamped the red carpet preshow, enlisting consultants with experience from the Met Gala to create a more glamorous and less chaotic star arrival experience, opting for a champagne-colored carpet.
Once seen as a coveted opportunity for top comedians like Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, hosting the Oscars has become less appealing to many stars due to the time commitment and potential backlash. Criticizing the Oscars on social media has become commonplace.
The awards season in Hollywood has been slow to start this year due to the actors’ strike, delaying the promotion of finished work. With the strike resolved, studios and publicists are now intensifying awards campaigns, focusing on stars like Emma Stone for her performance in “Poor Things” and films like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” which enjoyed success at the global box office. A strong showing for these films at the Oscars is expected to boost viewership, a factor that historically correlates with honoring popular films.
Jimmy Kimmel’s fourth stint as the Oscars host positions him as a familiar and successful choice for the 96th Academy Awards, offering stability and a proven track record in a bid to sustain and build upon the recent improvements in viewership.