It has been confirmed that next month's Oscars will be hosted by three doyennes of comedy, Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall, as organizers step up efforts to lure viewers back to the ceremony.

It is the first time since 2018 that the Oscars will have a host, the first time since 1987 that it has had three, and the first time ever that all three will be women.

Wanda Sykes

"I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea, but I'm hosting the Oscars, along with my good friend Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. I'd better go watch some movies," Schumer said in a video clip.

The comedians' names were announced on ABC's Good Morning America. ABC will broadcast the 94th Academy Awards on March 27.

"I know the fun Regina, Amy and Wanda will be having will translate to our audience as well. Many surprises in store! Expect the unexpected!" said the show's producer, Will Packer, in a statement.

Regina Hall

Television ratings for the Oscars have dramatically declined in recent years.

Late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel was the last person to host the show, in 2018.

The following year's hostless format drew praise and was emulated by other awards shows such as the Emmys, but subsequent Oscar ceremonies have been criticized for lacking focus and humour.

Last year's edition, which honoured mainly smaller, arthouse movies such as best picture winner Nomadland, was watched by just over 10 million viewers - a 56 percent decline from 2020, which was already a record low.

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

No Time to Die

This year there will be a new "fan favourite" prize for the most popular film as voted for by Twitter users.

The new category was announced after several crowd-pleasing blockbusters including Spider-Man: No Way Home and No Time To Die failed to earn Oscar nominations in major categories, including best picture.

In 2018, organizers proposed a "popular film" Oscar to honour movies such as the Star War films or Marvel superhero pictures that rake in millions at the box office.

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

Next month's Oscars will return to the ceremony's traditional Dolby Theatre venue in Hollywood, after the pandemic-affected 2021 Academy Awards were held at a Los Angeles train station.

Source: AFP