Oscars Add New 'Popular Film' Category, Immediate Internet Backlash Ensues

What popular flick do YOU think should've won an Academy Award?
By Thomas Freeman ,

(Photo: Getty Images)

In an apparent bid to reverse the declining viewership of the Oscars, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is making three major changes to next year's ceremony.

The biggest is the introduction of an all-new category, "Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film," in contrast to the usual prestige arty fare the Academy favors.

While the Academy said in a memo to members that "eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming," it is likely a move to incorporate box-office behemoths like Black Panther, which would otherwise be shunned from the Best Picture category.

The next move is to shorten the telecast to just three hours. The memo noted this was to designed to deliver "a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide."

That entails cutting some categories from the live broadcast. Several awards will be given during commercial breaks, and acceptance speeches will then be edited down and aired after the show.

These categories have yet to be announced, but do not be surprised if there are no Sound Mixing and Editing awards shown during next year's telecast.

Lastly, the date of the ceremony will be bumped up from February 23 to February 9, 2020. That will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process, but IndieWire claims it is a "bid to jump ahead of multiple rival awards shows."

The Academy has resisted pressure from broadcasters to update the ceremony in the past, but it is now feeling the heat. The 2017 ceremony dropped to a record low viewership of 26.5 million. 

Altering an awards ceremony so steeped in tradition and revered by cinephiles has sparked some debate on Twitter, with many not taking the news so well.

What do you think?

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