The world is in flux, and not even the Oscars 2022 ceremony is safe from the global shifts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the social media zeitgeist, the shrinking viewership of network television (thanks in part to said social media), and the advent of blockbuster streaming platforms and binge-watching. But the Oscars, like the film industry they celebrate, are resilient and masterful at creating change, reimagining themselves, and curating transformative storytelling. They don’t call it showbiz for nothing.
On March 27, 2022, the 94th Annual Academy Awards will return home to the Dolby Theatre after a pared-down ceremony with social distancing and COVID-19 protocols last year. The ceremony will pay homage to the best, brightest, and most brilliant film creatives and creators in the world, but this will not be your parents’ Oscars. This will be a moment for Hollywood to, yet again, reinvent itself and our viewing experience along with it.
“Film tends to lead the conversation in art and culture,” explains David Korins, scenic designer and creative director of the 2022 Academy Awards, a role he also held in 2019. “This show tends to be where people look to really understand where we have been, where we are in this moment, and where we’re headed. The thing about the Academy Awards is you have to meet an audience where they are. We have all gone through this indelible, insane, upside down, crazy experience. And we continue to be inside of this extreme turmoil. I feel like this show feels even more poignant and more people are laser-focused on what the ultimate message is going to be for the evening.”
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David Rubin, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, announced “Movie Lovers Unite” as the theme of this year’s Academy Awards, and, with the help of producers Will Packer and Shayla Cowan, there will be a more interactive and equitable awards show including Twitter engagement via the hashtags #OscarsFanFavorite and #OscarsCheerMoment, all-female hosts Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes, and Amy Schumer, an unscripted approach to the evening, and a lot of diverse star power.
“What’s kind of fascinating about my job is that there is no script for the evening. I sort of create the entire envelope for what will hopefully be some extraordinary, iconic, forever moments,” says Korins, who is best known for his work on Broadway (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and Beetlejuice), concert staging (Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Bruno Mars), and set design for the Emmy Award–winning Grease: Live! “We have made a portal that looks into the future. It has to do with an incredibly deep and incredibly forward-thinking sort of future-forward view. In that future, we trade in the currency of elegance and electricity.”