Academy Postpones New ‘Popular Film’ Oscars Category After Widespread Criticism
Just weeks after announcing the introduction of a new award for “popular films” at the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Thursday that this category would be postponed.
The Academy revealed last month that next year’s 91st Oscars — set to be held on Feb. 24 — would include a brand new category honoring the most fan-favorite films of the year as a response to declining ratings for the awards show. (This year’s ceremony received record-low viewership)
However, many celebrities, film critics and fans were quick to slam the Academy for its decision, accusing its board members of pandering to mainstream audiences.
“There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a public statement on Thursday. “We have made changes to the Oscars over the years — including this year — and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”
The Academy added that introducing the new category this late into the year also “created challenges for films that have already been released.”
The Oscars are known for typically honoring niche films that the majority of American moviegoers have not seen. It is believed the “popular film” category will be designed to include flicks that drew larger audiences, among them blockbusters like the Marvel Studios hit Black Panther, the horror film A Quiet Place or the box office hit romantic comedy of the summer, Crazy Rich Asians. Although it did not initially specify this, the Academy recently said films nominated in the “popular” category will also be allowed to contend for the Best Picture Oscar.
Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he believes his film deserves consideration for Best Picture and that it does not want to be nominated for “popular film.”
“There’s no campaign [that we are mounting] for popular film; like, if there’s a campaign, it’s for best picture and that’s all there is to it,” Boseman told the publication.
This raises questions about whether other projected “popular” movies will also mount similar campaigns to compete exclusively for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars.
The Academy also recently announced that it would make several changes to its broadcast — like presenting some awards during commercial brakes — in order to shorten the running time of the broadcast to under three hours.