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Oscars: Academy to add achievement in popular film category

09 August 2018

According to THR, change is on the horizon.

While the Academy did not directly address the falling viewers for the telecast, it did admit that changes were necessary. So, while they're being straight up about "this is the movie that y'all voted for the most with your dollar this year", the Academy's also telling you that whatever movie you liked best probably wasn't going to win without them being "generous" enough to invent a new slot.

The 92nd Oscars, scheduled for February 20, 2020, will include a brand new category: "Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film". They want those eyeballs. Those (in the case of films like Black Panther, say) those nerdy, nerdy eyeballs, and the rooting interests they represent.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is making room for the year's biggest blockbusters to enter the Oscars race. The telecast is an important showcase for the film industry, and nominated movies typically attract a new wave of ticket buyers.

I'm a little less thrilled with the the way they've chose to trim the fat is to off-load some of the "lesser" wins that will be edited and shown later in the broadcast - you know, like they do with the Sci-Tech awards. And what criteria will be used to determine whether a film qualifies as "popular?" These aren't questions to which we have answers, yet.

"We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world", the Academy's Board of Governors said in a statement quoted by Vanity Fair, adding that they "took this charge seriously".

Today's announcement seems like a decidedly inelegant gambit to accelerate, or perhaps do an end-run around, that process, and all for the objective of Nielsen ratings.

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The Academy Awards will introduce a new "popular film" category and a shorter award ceremony for 2019.

The Academy has made this promise before, of course. Those categories haven't been determined, but there has been push-back in the past in awards-season shows (not just the Oscars) from below-the-line crafts wary of having their categories nudged off the main broadcast.

You can find the full letter below.

The final reform will be to hold the ceremony earlier in the calendar year - in 2020, it will shift to February 9.

By contrast, none of the 10 highest grossing films of past year - including The Fate of the Furious, Despicable Me 3 and Beauty and The Beast, which brought in upwards of $1 billion - were nominated for major awards.

One person wrote, "I stopped watching the Oscars in the last two years because I'm sick of celebrities wagging their fingers at me, and lecturing me on how I should think and how I should live my life".

Oscars: Academy to add achievement in popular film category