The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seems to know just how unpopular its proposal last month for an “outstanding achievement in popular film” Oscar category has been.
And it’s doing a hard reverse.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy will at least be postponing the addition of the new category for a later date. Initially, it was supposed to be rolled out in the upcoming 91st awards ceremony in 2019.
But the Academy claims that implementing a new award several months into the year “creates challenges for films that have already been released.”
It’s also clear based on Academy CEO Dawn Hudson’s statement that the negative reactions to the new category at least played some role in the decision to postpone:
“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. 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.”
The addition of a popular film Oscar category, made by its Board of Governors, was met with general uproar from all sides. This was only exacerbated by the fact that the announcement came with no stipulations about how, exactly, the winner of a popular category would be defined.
Would it be decided upon by the public? Based on box office revenue? Or, like a lot of the current voting processes at the Academy, left nebulous and open to interpretation by its current voting body?
I know the world’s on fire but we’re gonna talk Oscars for a bit. Here’s the press release consigning the “best popular film” award to “further study”—a tacit acknowledgment that the fact that it was announced with no parameters was a huge failure of process. pic.twitter.com/wgsIS9j5Mq
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) September 6, 2018
By Hudson’s own admission, the addition of the category was an attempt to allow the Academy to evolve with the times. Often criticized for being out-of-touch and elitist, the Academy is at a point where people are looking for signs of real change in an industry that’s undergone much turmoil over the past couple years.
Viewership of the Oscars has been slowly declining, reaching an all-time low in 2018. The popular movie category read to many like a push to combat the threat of irrelevance with the general public.
Other, better-received strides have been made by the Academy to rectify some of long-standing criticisms. In June, it invited a historically high number of new members, and many of the 926 represented a push for women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks.
But as far as achievement in popular film is concerned, we’ll have to wait and see if it can rise above its unpopularity.
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