Following in the footsteps as such big names as Steven Soderbergh, Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, Lynette Howell Taylor, Stephanie Allain, and Donna Gigliotti, Hollywood multi-hyphenate Will Packer will produce the 94th Oscars. Shayla Cowan, chief of staff of Will Packer Productions and Will Packer Media, will serve as co-producer alongside Packer. The move marks Packer’s first involvement with the Oscars, which will air live on ABC and broadcast outlets worldwide on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
“Will is a powerhouse producer who has enjoyed success across all movie genres. He’s already bringing a boundless energy and a focus on innovation to this year’s Oscars, to entertain the widest spectrum of fans. Many wonderful surprises ahead!,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in an official statement.
Added Craig Erwich, president of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment, “There is no one better than Will Packer to celebrate our collective love for cinema. Will is a world-class hitmaker and the ideal producer to capture the prestige of The Oscars and deliver a powerful and moving event.”
Packer’s own excitement for the gig is already on display. In his first statement, Packer shared, “The power, the beauty, the romance of the imagery in movies has always attracted me. I’m fully embracing the challenge of bringing an ode to one of the most iconic mediums in the world to life. What an honor!”
The Hollywood powerhouse — Packer is best known for his producing chops, but he’s a writer and sometimes actor, even starring as himself on occasion — will need that energy and excitement as he and Cowan tackle the telecast. This year’s Oscars telecast drew 9.85 million total viewers and a 1.9 rating among the key demographic of adults 18-49. That’s a drop-off of 58.3 percent from the 2020 telecast, which pulled in 23.64 million viewers and landed a 5.3 rating. Those ratings marked all-time lows for the Oscars, following 2020’s all-time lows.
Produced by Soderbergh, Collins, and Sher, the starry night was beset by a wide variety of issues from the start, from how to enthuse an audience who likely hadn’t seen many of the films that were nominated (after so many release dates were moved due to the pandemic, while others pursued complex release patterns) to how to keep its limited in-person guest list safe as the pandemic passed its one-year mark. And while the numbers are only one metric, there were plenty of other signs that people didn’t dig what they were throwing down, from an energetic opening to a litany of strange choices (a lack of clips for nominated movies, a moved-around announcement schedule, a major bummer of a final award).
Packer and Cowan might be on to something, though: as the 2022 ceremony readies to return to relative normalcy, they can combine both fresh choices and old standbys (seriously, please show more clips).
Packer has produced or executive produced a wide range of movies, including such films as “The Photograph,” “Little,” “What Men Want,” “Night School,” “Breaking In,” “Girls Trip,” “Ride Along 2,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “No Good Deed,” “Think Like a Man Too,” “Ride Along,” “Think Like a Man,” “Takers,” “Obsessed,” and “Stomp the Yard.” His television credits include “That Girl Lay Lay,” “Blackballed,” “Ambitions,” “Bigger,” “Being Mary Jane,” “Uncle Buck,” and the remake of “Roots,” for which he received an Emmy nomination. He is the founder and CEO of film production company Will Packer Productions and Will Packer Media, a television, digital, and branded content company.
Cowan manages and oversees all the operational activities of both companies, advises on marketing, communications, and business strategies, and provides support on the development and production of the company’s films, television and digital programming.
The 94th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide.