Academy Postponing New Popular Oscar Category

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The award was to have been introduced at the 91st Oscars.

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 today, following a meeting of the board of governors on Tuesday, 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,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson on 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.”

Last month, the Academy’s board of governors voted to create the new award, which it said would recognize “outstanding achievement in popular film.” But it did not lay out the criteria or voting process that would be used to determine which films would be eligible and how they would be selected. With awards season currently taking shape as dozens of Oscar hopefuls are introduced at festivals in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, which kicks off its fest today, numerous questions were raised about the proposed award. With studios and distributors drawing up plans for the coming awards season, the Academy was under pressure to set up rules regarding the new category.

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 blockbusters movies, like the Marvel, Star Wars and DC Universe movies, as well as surprise hits like A Quiet Place and Crazy Rich Asians would be assured of air time on the broadcast.

But the announcement of the new award met with an immediate wave of criticism.

More to come. 

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