Academy Awards To Add "Best Popular Film" Category

Winning "Best Picture" at the Oscars is about to take on a brand new meaning.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday that it would be adding a new category to help acknowledge the major blockbusters and crowd-pleasing movies that have found themselves snubbed by the awards ceremony in recent years. That means, mega-blockbusters like "Star Wars" and "Black Panther" will soon have a real shot at winning a gold statue.

"Change is coming to the #Oscars," the Academy tweeted. "Here's what you need to know: A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film."

Critics of the annual movie awards ceremony say the Academy has ignored mega-blockbusters like "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", Wonder Woman, Deadpool" in the past, even as they bring in huge audiences with rabid fans. However, the hugely popular movies rarely find themselves nominated for "Best Picture," or for any award really other than a technical category.

In a memo sent to members, Academy president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson explained some of the new steps the Academy was taking to help expand the program.

"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."

The idea of a category recognizing mainstream movies isn't as new as you might think. At the first Academy Awards, AMPAS presented two "Best Picture" awards to eligible entries, one for "Outstanding Picture," and another for "Best Unique and Artistic Picture."

(For your bar trivia nights, or if you just want to show off, "Wings" won Best Picture, and "Sunrise" won Unique and Artistic Picture at the 1st Academy Awards).

The Academy also announced they were moving the show up on the calendar as well starting in 2020, on February 9 saying they plan on a "more globally accessible, three-hour telecast."

The shake up comes as the Academy Awards has seen its broadcast ratings plummet over recent years. This year's Jimmy Kimmel-hosted show clocked in at 3 hours and 50 minutes, and saw a record low audience of 26.5 million viewers, which was down 20 percent from 2017's broadcast.

AMPAS also announced that selected categories will be broadcast live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood during commercial breaks with winning moments to be edited and aired later in the broadcast.

The 91st Oscars telecast is scheduled for February 24, 2019. There's no word on when the new category will be added to the ceremony.

Photo: Getty Images

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