The Oscars Have A New Category: Popularity. Will Viewers Buy It?

Maybe the Academy Awards show was becoming too highfalutin'. It was missing those big superhero/sci-fi/action movies that lots of people enjoy.

Is that why its TV ratings have been declining? Well, maybe that and other stuff.

Next year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is addressing this by creating a "popular" movie category -- technically called “outstanding achievement in popular film.” That's not to be confused with “best” movie, which is ostensibly chosen on artistic merits.

In recent years, films that won the big awards -- critics' favorites -- came from mostly small niche producers targeting more of an upscale adult audience. Sometimes, these movies aren't widely available.

Conversely, “The Avengers,” “Black Panther,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Transformers” and the "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" franchises are seen by millions here and abroad.  Lots of people like these blockbusters — they typically produce the highest U.S. box-office results each year. And they are widely available.



It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out box-office attendance is much higher for blockbusters than mostly high-brow, niche movies shoehorned into the lower attendance end of the year, otherwise known as winter.

Additionally, some of Oscar's less-popular awards are presented off-screen -- taped and shown briefly in the broadcast later on -- to keep the telecast to a trim three hours.

ABC hopes adding populism will produce more viewers. But probably not by much.

About a decade ago, the Academy expanded the number of nominations for best picture to a possible 10 from 5 -- all to pull in more U.S. theatergoers. In 2009, it allowed movie studios to advertise future -- but not current or Oscar-nominated films. Again,t he move was to encourage more moviegoing.

Yet, ABC’s numbers for the event has declined over the last several years -- down this year to a mere 26.5 million Nielsen-measured viewers. It's due, in large part, to normal TV audience erosion, as well as competing with seemingly endless entertainment awards shows.

Still, having a popular movie category might seem like a consolidation prize for TV viewers -- like getting third-place in a basketball or soccer tournament. Others look at it more nefariously: It's something kind of equal. But separate.

1 comment about "The Oscars Have A New Category: Popularity. Will Viewers Buy It?".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Tom Tyler from GCTVTexas, August 16, 2018 at 3:02 p.m.

    Wayne, the truth is the vast majority of us simply don't care what Hollywood thinks of itself or of anyone else.

Next story loading loading..