The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday a few changes to future Oscars telecasts: The televised ceremony will be limited to three hours; the 2020 ceremony will be bumped up two weeks to February 9; and, to the disdain of many, a new category will recognize achievement in popular film.
The biggest change to the Academy Awards comes in the addition of a new category that is being designed around achievement in a popular film. Eligibility requirements for the popular film category will be announced later.
All three of these changes, Nielsen-focused as they are, may seem puzzling. until you remember that the Academy's day-to-day activities depend, at least in part, on the sale of TV rights to the Oscars broadcast. "The Board of Governors took this charge seriously", the message stated. Starting with this Oscars season, the award show will be adding a popular film category. The fact that there was a Best Animated Film award has often been pointed to as a possible reason for that - if you throw the animated films a bone, you don't have to award them the big one.
What's more, the ceremony's 2020 show will air even earlier in the year on February 9. The most-watched telecast in Oscars history was in 1998 when the hugely popular Titanic won Best Picture.
What they're proposing now is different - they'll keep handing out awards without a break, even during commercials.
You may remember that ever since The Dark Knight failed to gain a Best Picture nomination back in 2008, the all-important award has had up to ten nominees in an attempt to acknowledge popular films. But recent years have seen some of the year's top-grossing films either earn awards exclusively in technical categories or get shut out of the Oscars completely. Some awards will be presented live while others will be given out during the commercial breaks and edited into clips to be shown later.
The Academy announced it's adding a new category, shortening the broadcast and moving up the date of the 2019 show.
This is especially interesting as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never won an Oscar - embarrassingly, despite Suicide Squad grabbing a Best Makeup and Hairstyling gong previous year - but that could very well change with this new award category. The MTV Movie Awards?
Big-budget blockbusters like the Marvel and Star Wars franchises aren't completely ignored by the Academy: they're usually given a nod for visual effects, sound design or other technical accomplishments.