On Aug. 8, 2018, the Academy President John Bailey and C.E.O Dawn Hudson announced three changes to the annual award ceremony, including the addition of Best Popular Film award, which received mixed reactions.
The academy released a statement on their website stating they will include the Best Popular Film award, maintaining a three hour show, and the 2020 ceremony moved to an earlier date, in an effort to improve ratings. In a follow up statement, the academy announced to the public that films eligible for Best Popular Film are also eligible for Best Picture.
The Best Popular Film addition, reported by Katey Rich of Vanity Fair, largely supports blockbusters, such as superhero movies, action/adventure films, which make up a combined $100 billion annually in North America and yet are the least common genres nominated, a Statista study found.
Film journalists like Anne Thompson of IndieWire said the new category is a “desperate ratings attempt” and Matt Goldberg of Collider News said that the inclusion of films like “Black Panther” for Best Popular Film is just an exchange for views from millenials via Twitter.
The casual viewers on Cypress College campus, like Oliver Chou, 21, said “with the Oscars being prestigious and supposedly judging on how a movie could be so well crafted, enacting this category would devalue the honor of winning an Oscar. It’s basically like a participation award you got because they felt bad and decided to give you something for being there.” Yet, professors at Cypress College like Ian Holmes, who specializes in Media Arts, said “Film is a commercial art but nonetheless a business. As long as they adapt to the times, unlike many print publications failed to and went under as result, they will prosper.”
In contrast, Albert Berger, a representative on the board of governors for the academy, said to The Hollywood Reporter “I don’t think it really is popular film, I think it’s for outstanding entertainment.” Berger believes the new addition will pave the way for films like “Batman”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, and “The Bourne Identity” to receive recognition in entertaining a large demographic. Jason Blum, who received an Oscar and a Best Picture nomination for “Get Out” in 2018, said “I think it’s great and they have to shake up the show.”
Mahita Gajanan of Time magazine found that the academy’s latest TV ratings are the lowest in 44 years- with a drop of 20 percent- and began making changes that largely included diversity of its members. The Wrap reported that since 2016 the number of non-white people and women doubled in response to the #oscarssowhite hashtag in 2015, which was a response to the lack of representation for people of color and women from it’s millennial audience, yet ratings continue to fall.