After nearly a month of backlash, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science has decided to delay its planned Oscar category for achievement in popular film.
"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," said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement to Variety.
This post was originally published on August 8, 2018.
Typically, blockbusters like Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Incredibles 2 would rake in the cash at the movie theaters but not receive as much critical praise. The coveted Best Picture slot tends to go to less splashy, more critically acclaimed films, but this new category allows the public fervor around films to be recognized on stage. Now, Black Panther could scoop best popular movie, best director, best sound editing, best editing, best costumes, and best makeup.
The Oscars also announced that they are shortening the broadcast to three hours by airing some categories live and other categories during commercial breaks (to be edited and aired later), as well as an earlier date for the 2020 Oscars, moving the show from February 23 to February 9. However, it's the new category that has people talking. In fact, Twitter is kind of pissed, arguing that the popularity of the a film (and the $$$ that comes with that) is its own reward.
There is already an award for popular films. It's called "money." I have no particular problem with the other new Oscar moves--to insist on a three-hour show (whatever) and to move it a couple of weeks earlier (won't help a thing but won't hurt anything). >— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 8, 2018
Others are pointing out that this just seems like a convenient way to give Black Panther an award without giving it a seat at the table with more traditional Best Picture nominees. Who's to say what's "best" can't also be what's popular?
As for a "popular film" award, it is a ghetto and will be perceived that way. Imagine if they instituted it this year: "Oh, It's lovely that the rabble went to Black Panther--here's a special fake Oscar it can win!" This is just a head-slapper on all counts.— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 8, 2018
Plus, there's the fact that adding this award feels like salt in the wounds of behind-the-scenes positions that still don't have categories, like stunt performers.
Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.
The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.
Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:
1. A three-hour Oscars telecast
We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.
To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.
2. New award category
We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.
3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars
The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.
The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.
We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.
We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.
John Bailey and Dawn Hudson