For several years, fans and moviegoing audiences have bemoaned the fact the Academy of Arts and Sciences often neglects some of the industry’s biggest blockbusters for more serious and ‘artsy’ films. Instead, films such as The Dark Knight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Avengers have been relegated to the technical awards of sound editing and visual effects rather than Best Director, Best Actor/Actress or even Best Picture, despite the critical acclaim some of those films have gone on to earn. Now the Academy is changing that for next year’s telecast with a new category, Achievement in Popular Film.
The new category was announced in a letter to Academy board members Wednesday morning from re-elected president John Bailey and chief executive officer Dawn Hudson. “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,” the pair said in their letter.
The move is a bid to garner more viewership in their live telecast of the Oscars, especially in light of the most recent ceremony being the least-viewed in all its history. The statement also read it seeks to deliver a “more globally accessible three-hour telecast” that will honour select categories during the commercial breaks and air short segments of them during the live broadcast to cut down on the run time of the annual event. The inclusion of a Achievement in Popular Film category seeks to broaden the audience by courting younger moviegoers to its broadcast.
The 91st Academy Awards will air on ABC on February 24th, 2019.