Kevin Hart has confirmed that he'll be the host for the 91st Academy Awards on February 24, 2019. The ceremony will be held at the Dolby theater and telecast live on ABC.
Kevin Hart began his comedic career in 2001, and quickly began stealing scenes and drawing attention with his early film and television roles. Soon the supporting roles gave way to leading roles, and now he’s a consistent box office draw with hits like Ride Along (2014), Central Intelligence (2016) and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017).
Rumors began earlier today that the Academy was in talks with Hart to host the biggest night in Hollywood, and Hart took to his personal Instagram account to confirm the news, calling it “the opportunity of a lifetime.” This will mark his first time hosting the Oscars, though he does have some hosting experience; he co-hosted the MTV Movie Awards with friend and frequent co-star Dwayne Johnson in 2016. He's been open about his desire to take on the biggest hosting event of the year since as early as 2015, when he stated he was actively campaigning for the gig on Live with Kelly and Michael (now Live With Kelly and Ryan).
The Academy is likely hoping that Kevin Hart’s mass appeal will translate into higher ratings. The last two ceremonies, both hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, have seen ratings decline, and last year’s 90th Oscars saw a record-low 26.5 million viewers. The Academy has been transparent about their many attempts to entice viewers. They have already announced they won't televise all 24 categories as usual, and in August they announced the addition of a new category for most “popular” film. In recent years the nominated films have skewed towards more independent fare with low box office numbers (last year’s winner, The Shape of Water earned $63.9 million which is practically nothing compared to the $700 million Black Panther, which most likely would have won the “popular” Oscar, made this year). The backlash towards the idea of a popular Oscar was so swift and so ferocious the Academy shelved the idea in September - for now.
This hosting choice also harkens back to the 88th Academy Awards, and the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. That year the Academy came under fire for a lack of diversity in the nominations, and (likely) in response hired Chris Rock to host. While nominations are still over a month away, there are reasons to believe this year will feature plenty of diversity thanks to new films from Steve McQueen (Widows), Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk), Alfonso Cuarón (Roma) and even Black Panther, popular Oscar or not. Of course nominations aren’t the only place the Academy lacks diversity. Hart will be only the 5th African American to host (or co-host) the awards.
Source: Kevin Hart