New Oscars "Popular Film" category to be introduced at the 2019 show

Oscar statue appears outside the Dolby Theatre for the 87th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. The Oscars are adding a new category to honor popular films and promising a brisk 3-hour ceremony on a much earlier air

New Oscars "Popular Film" category to be introduced at the 2019 show

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced Wednesday morning that the prestigious award show is going to be making some changes, including a new category that will be centered around "achievement in popular film".

Also, the 92nd Oscar ceremony in 2020 will air on the much earlier date of Sunday, February 9, presumably to battle complaints that the show's usual late-February or early-March date feels a little late.

Vanity Fair has dubbed it the "Black Panther award", and voiced concerns that such a category could lead to a "separate but equal" mentality regarding such massively popular films as they exist alongside more traditional Oscar fare.

"The new category will be introduced this coming year, at the 91st Oscars".

Black Panther is a bit different in that regard, as there was already hope that it would score some nominations on its own.

Australia's Logie Awards wrestle with a similar issue, in that they have two groups of categories, one voted by the audience, and the other voted by juries of industry professionals. But recent years have seen some of the year's top-grossing films either earn awards exclusively in technical categories or get shut out of the Oscars completely.

IndieWire chief film critic Eric Kohn told The Washington Post that the "crass" category frustrates him.

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The new film category quickly drew negative attention, with "popular film" becoming a trending topic on Twitter by this afternoon.

It may be good news to hear that the show will be limited to three hours - some of us could go with even less, considering there's also the red carpet pre-show - but that means not all wins will be shown live. "The board of governors took this charge seriously", the Academy said in a letter to members, which was made available to media.

On top of that, in a bid to keep things interesting and moving, the 3-hour telecast will now only present select categories live, while other winners will be handed out during commercial breaks.

The Academy Awards have always gotten a lot of flack from movie fans. Certain categories - which have yet to be announced but will presumably include those honoring technical achievement - will be presented during commercial breaks. Next year's Oscars, however, will still air on Sunday, February 24.

"Five Came Back" author Mark Harris tweeted that the popular film award, "Is a ghetto and will be perceived that way".

As a effect, the United Kingdom equivalent - the BAFTA Film Awards - are likely to take place earlier in the year from 2020.

It's unclear what exactly spurred this decision to consider a category for "popular film" and what exactly that would entail (likely big box-office movies that aren't necessarily considered Oscar-worthy).

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