Oscars Adding Popular Film Category

The Oscars are making some changes to their format, and that includes opening the door for more widely popular movies to get recognized, including superhero films.

The Academy's board of governors has approved several changes for next year's Oscars, and among them is the introduction of a new category. The new category will be called the Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film and was announced by Academy President John Bailey and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a letter (via THR).

The requirements aren't known just yet, though we assume the focus on the category will be to integrate films that are more popular with the buying public rather than solely the critics. As the report points out, ratings for the Oscars have been closely tied to the popularity of the films nominated, and this year is full of heavy hitters that more often than not get overlooked by the Oscars.

Films like Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, and others are likely candidates — films that typically would score nominations for things like art, set design, costume design and other categories, but not for categories like best film, best actor/actress, etc.

Black Panther is a bit different in that regard, as there was already hope that it would score some nominations on its own. Even with this change, it still can do that, of course, but adding a new category widens the net.

This comes at a time when the Academy is trying to make changes to improve ratings of its annual show. The last Oscars brought in 26.5 million viewers, which is down from the 32.9 million viewers the Oscars brought in the year before, making it the least-viewed Oscars ever. Understandably, The Academy wants to turn that around.

Part of the new effort is to not only add a new category, but also tighten up the three-hour long show. They propose to present select categories live during the commercial breaks and edit them in and air them later on during the broadcast.

You can find the full letter below.

"Dear Member,

Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.

The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.

Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:

1. A three-hour Oscars telecast

We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.

To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.

2. New award category

We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.

3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars

The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.

The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

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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.

We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you."