Has "the film business passed away" with its "most popular" Oscars category?

Lewis Collier
August 11, 2018

Whereas awards shows like the MTV Movie Awards hand out prizes for those films that are a big hit with the general public, the Oscars focuses purely on technical craft: popularity and box office numbers be damned.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced major changes to future Oscar broadcasts early Wednesday in an attempt to rein in the show's length (by presenting some unspecified categories during commercial breaks), shorten the months-long awards season (by moving up the ceremony by several weeks, beginning in 2020), and most controversial of all, adding a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film.

The sweeping changes also include handing out some of the 24 Academy Awards during commercial breaks in the February 24 broadcast on Walt Disney Co's DIS.N ABC network.

The U.S. television audience for the nearly four-hour Oscar ceremony in March 2018 was just 26.5 million viewers, the smallest in the history of the 90 year-old Academy Awards.

The changes are the biggest since the Academy in 2016 pledged to double its female and minority membership by 2020 in response to the #OscarsSoWhite criticism of its nominees.

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In fact, it would definitely not be too much of a leap to think that it was, in fact, Black Panther, a big and colourful superhero blockbuster that became a cultural phenomenon with its celebration of Afro-futurism, which directly prompted the creation of this new category as there would certainly have been a public outcry if it was left off the list of nominations next year.

- A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film. "Here comes the Academy, establishing a corner to which voters can banish (Black Panther) and other films like it with a pat on the head and a "'thanks for playing'". This has a lot of people confused - what makes a movie "popular"?

The Oscars ceremony will be trimmed by handing out some awards during commercial breaks instead of honoring all winners, including those in categories like sound editing and costumes, along with actors, writers and director.

It did not say which of the 24 awards handed out on Oscars night would be shifted.

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