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Academy backtracks on controversial new “Best popular film category”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that it’s postponing the intended new “popular” Oscar category until they further discuss it and “seek additional input”.

Last month, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a series of measures in an attempt to cater to a broader audience amidst their declining ratings.

Out of all the new initiatives, the one that ruffled the most feathers was their proposal to include a new award for “best popular film”

“We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our academy relevant in a changing world,” Academy president John Bailey said in early August.

The announcement sparked divided opinions among Hollywood personalities, film critics and fans, with shots fired from all sides.

The decision hinted at a messy conceptual debate. Does this suggest that popular films don’t have enough artistic merit to compete in the usual categories? And even worse, does this mean great films with artistic merit can’t be popular?

Furthermore, the very intention of the new measures, which is to attract a larger audience, would also be put into question. Are younger viewers really going to go through a three-hour telecast just because “The Fast & Furious 13” is competing in one category?

Now the Academy has stated that “while remaining committed to celebrating a wide spectrum of movies,” it acknowledges that the idea needs further thought.

“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 today.

“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 rest of changes proposed in August still stand, though. This means the telecast will be shortened to three hours, some categories – six to eight – will be presented during the commercial breaks, and the ceremony will be rescheduled for two weeks earlier than usual.

The 91st Academy Awards ceremony will be held on February 24, 2019.

About the author

Filmmaker. 3D artist. Procrastination guru. I spend most of my time doing VFX work for my upcoming film Servicios Públicos, a sci-fi dystopia about robots, overpopulated cities and tyrant states. @iampineros