The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is pulling back on its effort to launch a new category -- one for the best “popular” movies -- due to resistance from its board of governors and Academy members.
“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,” stated Dawn Hudson, CEO, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences
For some time, the group has been hearing from critics that movies awarded with its noted Oscar statuettes have been too narrow -- focusing on small-release, independent movies.
That has resulted in lower TV viewers, according to analysts -- to 26.6 million Nielsen viewers for the 2018 telecast, down from 33 million the year before. National TV advertising came in at $141.8 million, according to iSpot.tv.
The popular movie category move would note the achievement of big box-office movies, such as this year’s “Black Panther.”
The chief problem seems to be that The Academy could not develop a clear measure that would identify these “popular” movies. For example, analysts wondered whether it was just predicated on box-office revenues.
Even the name of the award was a parsing effort, according to some -- intended to be called “outstanding achievement in popular film” -- as opposed to using the word “best” — which virtually all other categories use to signal merit.
Still, the Academy will make some changes.
For the 2019 awards, the ABC Oscars telecast will be shortened to three hours. To do this, six to eight of the 24 categories will be presented during TV commercial breaks.