The Oscars: The Academy Introduces a New Category for Popular Films

The Oscars’ new ‘popular film’ award proves it’s out-of-touch and elitist

The Oscars are adding a "popular film" category and shortening the broadcast to a maximum 3 hours in 2019. The date for the 2019 show, February 24, remains unchanged. "The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast".

The U.S. television audience for the nearly four-hour Oscar ceremony in March 2018 was 26.5 million viewers, the smallest in awards' 90-year history. It was so popular and well-liked that the film, even before this announcement, had gained major Oscar buzz, with many feeling it would be the equivalent to this year's Logan or even Get Out, both popular films that were nominated for (and in the latter's case, won) Oscars for their troubles.

"We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world", Ms. Hudson and Mr. Bailey wrote.

Some argue that creating a popular-film category will relegate all blockbusters and genre-y movies-think "Black Panther" and "Mission: Impossible"-to this new, seemingly second-rate group".

Actor Rob Lowe tweeted that "the film business passed away today with the announcement of the "popular" film Oscar. It is survived by sequels, tent-poles, and vertical integration".

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Many have taken to Twitter to criticize and express dismay over the Academy's decision to add the category in question, which some view as an excuse not to nominate critically acclaimed blockbusters such as Black Panther for Best Picture.

Although the 2018 Oscars hit an all-time low in TV ratings, it's worth noting that those numbers reflect a broader trend in live TV: the Super Bowl, the Grammys, the Emmys and the Olympics all reported declines in viewership this year. They believe people will just adjust to the changes over time.

An anonymous member of the Academy's film editing branch told The Hollywood Reporter that if, as expected, technical awards are dropped, it would be "demeaning" to those who work behind the scenes.

In 2009, it expanded the number of best picture nominees from five to 10 in a bid to open up the competition.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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