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The Academy Announces Changes To The Oscars, Adds A New Category

The Academy Announces Changes To The Oscars, Adds A New Category

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday a few changes to future Oscars telecasts: The televised ceremony will be limited to three hours; the 2020 ceremony will be bumped up two weeks to February 9; and, to the disdain of many, a new category will recognize achievement in popular film. "Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming", reads the statement. Will it be box office numbers, production budget, or an MLB All-Star-style people's vote?

Whether these changes mean the show will be better remains to be seen, but we're suddenly very excited for next year's awards season.

In 1929 at the first Oscars ceremony, the Academy awarded films in two separate categories - Outstanding Picture and Unique And Artistic Picture - both considered the top awards of the night. The most-watched telecast in Oscars history was in 1998 when "Titanic" won.

Oh, and by the by, there couldn't possibly be any ulterior motives behind Disney-owned ABC requesting a "best blockbuster" category could there?

This isn't the first time that the Academy has tried to shake up the way that it hands out awards to avoid giving out hardware exclusively to more avant garde fare. The following year, the Artistic category was dropped and the Outstanding Picture victor, "Wings", was retroactively considered to be the night's biggest victor.

The addition of a Popular Film category is surely an attempt to make the award show a more appealing event to casual moviegoers who don't necessarily care about anything outside of blockbusters.

There's another reason to be suspicious of the Academy's head-scratching decision: the timing. Nine years ago, the Academy expanded the best picture roster from five nominees to 10. This year is especially stacked with Oscar-worthy films, and prognosticators are already putting their money on The Favourite, an acerbic comedy by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose works have previously been nominated for Best Original Screenplay (The Lobster) and Best Foreign Language Film (Dogtooth).

All three of these changes, Nielsen-focused as they are, may seem puzzling. until you remember that the Academy's day-to-day activities depend, at least in part, on the sale of TV rights to the Oscars broadcast.

Such films are certainly popular, as Black Panther recently passed $700M in the United States, the most for any MCU film ever domestically. "The board of governors took this charge seriously", the Academy said in a letter to members, which was made available to media. It is not known which will be cut, nor what he eligibility criteria for the new popular film award will be.

Should Black Panther be the Academy Award victor for "Best Picture", it should earn its statuette against something like The Favourite.

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