Ordinarily on an Oscars Sunday, the peak interest in Hollywood’s big awards show is around the top winners. But this year was… different.
According to data from Google, in the 11 p.m. ET hour on March 27, Will Smith was the subject of 25 times more internet searches than “CODA,” Apple’s groundbreaking film that became the first movie from a streaming service to win the best picture Oscar (see chart below).
Google searches for Smith peaked after the actor smacked comedian Chris Rock during ABC’s Oscars telecast — responding to Rock’s impromptu joke about Jada Pinkett Smith — followed minutes later by Smith winning the Oscars actor trophy for his turn in “King Richard.” Searches for “Chris Rock” in that hour indexed at 54, while those for “CODA” came in at 4.
In the 10 p.m. ET hour Sunday, which encompassed the slap, the weighted search score for Will Smith was 54; Chris Rock was 35; and “CODA” was 1.
The data is shown over a seven-day time period, measuring web searches worldwide. The Google Trends data represents search interest weighted relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term; a value of 50 means that the term is half as popular.
Source: Google Trends
In the wake of Smith’s shocking physical attack on Rock, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a “formal review” of the incident to “explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
On Monday, Smith apologized to Rock for the attack in a post on Instagram. “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” the actor wrote in part. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”