The Academy is postponing the ‘Popular Film Oscar’ category until further notice

89th Annual Academy Awards Press Room

A month ago, the Academy announced some big new changes they were making to the annual Oscars. The Oscars are basically on life support at the moment – viewership is way down, and the Oscars are generally seen as less and less relevant with each passing year. It doesn’t help matters at all that the old white dudes who make up the biggest part of the Oscar-voting demographic want more white people to get Oscars for making boring, awful historical films.

One of the new changes for the Oscars was supposed to remedy that: the Academy announced that they were adding a “Popular Film Oscar,” so that blockbusters and movies like Wonder Woman or Black Panther could be nominated for something. The decision to add this category was seen as especially patronizing, like the Academy is already preparing for the fact that their old white-dude voters will not nominate an actual popular film in the “real” categories. So after that feedback – “this is patronizing as hell, dude” – the Academy has backtracked.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is postponing the introduction of the new “popular” Oscar category it had intended to introduce at its upcoming 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24. The Academy announced Thursday, following a special meeting of the board of governors on Wednesday morning, that it is shelving the idea for the moment and will not launch the proposed new award at the next Oscar show, but it said it will continue to discuss the idea for the new award and “will examine and seek additional input regarding the new category.” The announcement explained that implementing the new award nine months into the year “created challenges for films that have already been released.” The Academy did not provide any timeline for when further details about the new award might be decided.

“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,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said Thursday. “We have made changes to the Oscars over the years — including this year — and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”

Hoping to stem falling ratings for the Oscar broadcast, the Academy is looking for ways to attract the attention of mainstream moviegoers. The new award was seen as a way to guarantee that blockbuster movies, like the Marvel, Star Wars and DC Universe films, as well as surprise hits like A Quiet Place and Crazy Rich Asians, would be assured of air time on the broadcast.

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

You know another way to guarantee that Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther and A Quiet Place garner Oscar nominations? Actually NOMINATE the films in existing categories. There’s absolutely NO reason why those three films should be omitted from the Best Picture conversation. They were well-made popular films embraced by the public, and not because of some heavy-handed Oscar campaign in January. Gather around, children: back in the day, the Academy voters used to actually nominate popular films that people saw and loved months beforehand. Weird, right?

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Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards

Photos courtesy of WENN, ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ ‘Black Panther’.

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23 Responses to “The Academy is postponing the ‘Popular Film Oscar’ category until further notice”

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  1. Lindsey Mitchell says:

    Good! That category was an insult.

  2. Astrid says:

    I can’t remember the last time I watched or even cared about an Oscar nomination.

  3. Shijel says:

    Is it just me or does this new category absolutely stink of “we’re trying to get the viewership up by pretending to be woke but in a way that doesn’t crowd prestigious categories such as best pic, best script, best dir., best (supporting) actors/actresses with those *shudder* not-whites?”

    because that’s what it looks like to me. trying to have their white bread vanilla filling sugar-dusted cake untouched by conjuring up a half-baked brownie to keep the angry voices of poc content creators and consumers quiet.

    just nominate good films, creators and actors in the existing categories where they belong, cowards.

    • Mia4s says:

      ““we’re trying to get the viewership up by pretending to be woke but in a way that doesn’t crowd prestigious categories such as best pic, best script, best dir., best (supporting) actors/actresses with those *shudder* not-whites?””

      Not really. They’re trying to up viewership by having a category to spotlight Star Wars, Marvel, DC, films, etc. The TV network is losing their s**t about recent ratings. They would have loved nothing more than to have Infinity War nominated (which made $700 million plus more than Black Panther worldwide). So no it’s not about pretending to be woke at all. It’s about how can we get Batman fans watching without having to nominate a Batman film in any of those categories you mentioned. It’s about snobbery. The Academy has massive diversity issues but this is about one colour…green.

  4. Prettykrazee says:

    Good. Now they can concentrate on making the ceremony less boring. Maybe start by cutting out the 50 million montages and clips.

  5. Jan90067 says:

    Seriously, there should be *no* “campaigning” (backroom or otherwise, aka known as buying off the judges with goodies). Just send out the damned screeners, IN A TIMELY MANNER (as some don’t even arrive till after voting!), mark your ballots and send them back in. DONE!

    Just because a movie is popular doesn’t make it a “sell-out” and unworthy of an award, just as being “artsy” doesn’t make it award-worthy.

    Eh… one more thing before I chase them off the lawn: I used to so look forward to the Awards when I was a kid. The fashion, the surprises… It really was an event. Now, it’s a closed-rank sh*t show that have these old farts just giving shiny statues to their “buddies”, and they keep patting themselves on the back for breathing. There are SO MANY award shows crammed into the first three months of the year. Do they really need so many shiny “stickers* to celebrate/feel good about themselves? Now, it’s just all so redundant and boring.

    NOW… get off my lawn 😊

    • Mia4s says:

      Your idea is a good one but it would only work if Oscars were about merit and awarding the “best films”. It’s not. Campaigning is huge business and various critics, film festivals, and pre-curser awards make big bucks. It’s all just a corporate exercise really. The changes are being pushed for not by the Academy but by the network that broadcasts the show, which sells advertising space. They are going apes**t at how bad the ratings have gotten.

      So no campaigning is a lovely idea, and Hollywood would burn to the ground before certain corporate interests let that happen.

  6. Scal says:

    But they’ve still left in the part where the less known awards (documentary short etc) are given out during the ads. For those small film makers that’s their big shot to be seen by a wider audience and they deserve their airtime vs long speeches from the big name actors and studios.

    Cut the montages and the clips. Make the award show about the awards.

    • Lightpurple says:

      And to me, those shorts and documentaries have included some of the best film work I have seen in recent years. My great aunt is a huge film buff and makes a point of seeing every film nominated in every category. I have joined her on this yearly quest for the past decade and some friends and relatives have joined us in recent years. We may not know what we’re talking about technically when we discuss best sound mixing but we know why the nominees make the list because we saw the film. The shorts are the absolute best, incredible stories that are sad, inspiring or outright hilarious told in just a few minutes. These people deserve their moments.

  7. Erinn says:

    I am ashamed to say I still haven’t seen Black Panther. I keep meaning to watch it on the weekends and fall asleep before getting around to it! But everything I’ve read – and all the stills I have seen are amazing looking. I’m kind of tired of the super hero thing – but I’m definitely down for this one because even if it hadn’t been a great movie – it’d still be DIFFERENT. I’m going to have to really make a point to watch it this weekend.

    I did go see CRA in theatre. I was so amped up for that one – I’m still only on the second book. But it came out during my week of vacation so I made a point of going to the matinee showing and I loved every minute of it. My husband enjoyed it too – and hadn’t had any exposure to it other than the little bits of info I’ve shared while reading the books. It’s just an enjoyable movie. It’s not some perfect piece of acting and super deep heartbreaking story – but it’s entertaining, it’s beautifully done, and the chemistry between the actors works so well. I’m SO glad they put it in theatres instead of limiting themselves to Netflix.

    • Patty says:

      If you’re in the US, Black Panther is on Netflix.

      • Erinn says:

        Unfortunately, no. But I googled and it’s supposed to be streaming on the Canadian one either this month or next. Worst case, we have an android box that I can stream on, but I’d prefer to do it on something like netflix that might keep track of views more.

    • Tania says:

      It’s on Netflix now!

  8. Jerusha says:

    Cut the cutesy “humor” between presenters.

  9. booboocita says:

    I’m trying to remember where I read once that half of the Academy’s annual budget, which is well over $100 million, comes from the Oscar telecast. The Academy needs the show to keep the lights on and pay staff. So if interest in the show is dwindling, the ad revenue is sure to dry up, and a lot of people will be out of work. The Best Popular Film category was a straight-up desperation move to keep the cash coming.

    I have to admit, I haven’t watched in years. Sometimes I’ll tune in for about a half hour or so to see what folks are wearing, and I’ll read about the winners in the paper the day after, but I stopped caring a long time ago. My local movie theatre does a marathon showing of the Best Picture nominees every year, and sometimes I’ll go see that, but other than that … And given that much of the country is doing the same, something has to happen to pique interest in a long, turgid, flabby show. Sorry for the tech folks, but moving some of the technical awards categories away from the telecast might just do the trick.

  10. Marie says:

    The Academy used to nominate popular films because the kind of films they nominate used to be popular.

    For example Terms of Endearment made 300 million domestically adjusted to today’s money. So did All The President’s Men. On Golden Pond made over 375 million adjusted. Kramer Vs. Kramer made almost 400 million adjusted. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s nest made almost 500 million adjusted. Love Story made almost 650 million adjusted. Forrest Gump and The Godfather made more than Black Panther adjusted.

    That just doesn’t happen today. Those type of films are lucky to eke out 100-150 million with the big awards push. Without it they maybe make 40-50 million.

    People’s viewing habits changed. Low to mid-budget films aimed at grown-ups used to be extremely popular. Now most people wait and watch those type of films at home, and save their theatre dollars for spectacles.

    • Becks1 says:

      This is a good point. For me – well I rarely go to the movies anyway, but I used to go a ton – but now when I go, its to see a movie that is going to be “worth it” to see on the big screen. So a Star Wars movie, a superhero movie, etc. With as fast as movies are available to rent now, and the ridiculous ease of renting a movie via amazon or cable or iTunes, spending 10 or 15 dollars a ticket to see a movie like The Post just seems like a waste.

    • Coz' says:

      That’s why, even though it sometimes is frustrating, I find the established chronology of movies in my country really interesting for the film industry. You have way more time between theatrical release and availabity on VOD or TV channel.
      But medias holding and Netflix and co are also pushing to shorten this delay

  11. Heather says:

    This reeks of the worst kind of pandering and condensation. If Crazy Rich Asians hadn’t come out, and also been just as perfect for this category as Black Panther (since neither will be nominated for a “real” award because they’re not “arty” or something), this category would still be there. But because it won’t be a give away to Black Panther or Crazy Rich Asians, it’s scrapped. Is it really any coincidence that the two “front runners” for this “award” are films with a non white cast? I agree with the above posters, if the film is good, nominate the darn thing even if it made a bazillion bucks at the box office and “normal” people like it! But it seems the only ones that get nominated for Best Picture are either: a) war films, b) historical biographies, c) so weird no one one understands them or d) done by a director, writer or producer that should have been nominated the previous year.

  12. OkieOpie says:

    The vast majority of the Oscars is awards that most people don’t care about except for those in the industry itself. Costumes, sound, etc. And of course people watch the red carpet. Films like Wonder Woman and big blockbusters don’t get nominated because they are simply not that great. Same with Black Panther, etc. LOTS of films don’t get acknowledged in favor of heavy artsy pics. The Oscars are stuffy and boring and they should cut the broadcast down to 2 hours with only the categories people actually are interested in like Best Pic, Actress, etc. People don’t watch because it is long and boring. 4 hours of nothing.

  13. Udi says:

    On a side note, I find the Oscars to be guilty of genre discrimination. For example if you look at some winners of best picture like Titanic, I don’t find a major discrepancy in the quality between that and some good marvel movies or horror flicks. And I think the poorer ratings have to do with the digitalisation of the world with the internet and cognate reduction in our attention spans and also the politics (which I do not have a problem with but some factions do).

  14. Corporatestepsister says:

    I think Hollywood needs to start growing up and start presenting respectable, substantial shows, not asinine stuff created to appeal (or try to get the attention of) spoiled teenagers. The show is too long, the celebs badly dressed, the speeches political, asinine preaching, and on one takes it seriously anymore as an accolade.

    It’s stupid and no one even TRIES to behave in a civilized manner. It’s turned into a freak show of horrific costumes, intellectual pretensions, and political ranting and raving. I am also fed up with how celebs blow EVERYTHING out of proportion. They get paid millions, but show up looking like slobs and showing so much skin they look like streetwalkers.