The Oscars are introducing a new awards category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the ceremony also clocked it at almost four hours, making it the longest show in over a decade. This creates ratings woes for the Academy, to be sure, but it's also generated an outcry from genre fans and critics, who argue that legitimately great artistic achievements in blockbuster and genre-heavy films are often overlooked, with a few exceptions like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and this year's big victor, The Shape of Water.
The board of governors announced the changes in a letter to academy members after the board's Tuesday meeting. "Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming".
The Academy's board of governors has also set an earlier date for the 2020 Oscars ceremony and will shorten the telecast to three hours in an attempt to make the ceremony "more accessible for our viewers worldwide".
The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019. Specific categories will be determined at a later date, but the winning moments will be edited and aired in a later broadcast.
Finally, the date of 2020's Oscars has moved forward.
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In a memo to members from Bailey and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson (read it in full below), the changes outlined include creating a new category, for outstanding achievement in popular film.
Other cinephiles were turned off by the idea of a "popular film" category, worrying it could turn the Oscars into a ceremony that panders to popular public opinion, much like the MTV Movie Awards or the People's Choice Awards.
In a statement, it said: "We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world". The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.
"Here's the ten highest-grossing films, when accounting for inflation aka America's most "popular" films", Palotta wrote. And that's saying a lot since you awarded Best Picture to Crash. That same year, the Academy also reinstated a "preferential ballot" for Best Picture voting that allows members to rank films according to preference in that category, rather than simply picking one victor. "Popular films are films!"