Further details have come to light in the wake of yesterday’s shock announcement regarding the addition of a ‘Popular Movie’ category at the annual Academy Awards event.
Variety has posted a report suggesting the changes that have just been announced were the result of pressure from Disney-ABC Television Group executives in the wake of the poor ratings for this year’s ceremony.
ABC has a pact with AMPAS to broadcast the Oscars through 2028 and so is keen to make it work, but the viewership fell to 26.6 million viewers earlier this year – a steeper decline than the also dwindling figures of other awards ceremonies like the Grammys.
So ABC execs met with AMPAS and after studying ratings carefully, they made the recommendations of reigning in the show’s length, the moving up of the ceremony to an early calendar period and a proposed ‘best blockbuster’ category.
The first two changes have so far been met far more positively, though the shorter length has been revealed to be partly achieved by moving several awards categories into commercial breaks with those smaller awards being announced later in the broadcast with a quick montage.
It’s the popular film awards where both criticism and questions still linger, but ABC is reportedly quite happy with the changes and likely won’t budge on them despite the backlash because they perceive changes to an old institution like the Oscars often yields complaints. AMPAS also issued the following statement:
“While the details for a popular film category are still being finalized, a single film is eligible for an Oscar in both categories – Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film and the Academy Award for Best Picture. The new category will be introduced this coming year, at the 91st Oscars. In creating this award, the Board of Governors supports broad-based consideration of excellence in all films.”
Amusingly ABC has shot itself in the bit somewhat here. Consultants were hired to push “Black Panther” as a serious contender for a potential Best Picture nomination – now it will be exiled to the ‘Popular Movie’ category which is being labelled as a deeply condescending honor.