Oscar organisers retreat on popular film category after backlash

Reuters . Los Angeles | Published at 08:52pm on September 07, 2018


An Oscar statue is seen outside the Dolby Theatre during preparations for the Oscars in Hollywood. — Reuters photo.

The Academy of Motion Pictures said on Thursday it would not go ahead with its proposed new ‘popular film’ Oscar category at next year’s awards ceremony.
The proposal, announced just a month ago, was met with a huge backlash from the movie industry and film reviewers who said it would create a two-tier system of popular and unpopular films.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a statement that ‘implementing any new award nine months into the year creates challenges for films that have already been released’ and that the proposal needed further discussion.
It said it would ‘not present the new Oscars category at the upcoming 91st awards’ in February 2019.
‘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,’ Academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said in Thursday’s statement.
The idea of a separate category for popular films was widely seen as a bid to increase television viewers for the annual Oscar ceremony. The U.S. audience for the March 2018 ceremony was 26.5 million viewers, the smallest in the awards’ 90-year history
Critics said the idea would pit ‘popular films,’ such as superhero box office hits, against what would be seen as ‘unpopular,’ smaller art house fare.
In recent years, Academy voters have chosen independent films like ‘Moonlight’ and ‘The Shape of Water,’ as best picture winners, rather than box office hits like the ‘Star Wars’ franchise or superhero movies such as 2017 blockbuster ‘Wonder Woman.’
The Academy in August sowed confusion by not detailing how it would determine eligibility for which films would compete in the popular film category, as opposed to the traditional best picture race.