The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, have long been the highest achievement in the film industry, bestowing honors on the highest quality motion pictures to be released in a given year.  Unfortunately, that means they shower accolades on dramatic, rich work that is simply not the stuff that draws the masses to the cineplex, leading to this year’s broadcast which had the lowest ratings ever.  Granted, once these sorts of films received nominations for this major award, interest spikes, with people flocking to either check them out in theaters or rent them from Redbox.  And most of the time, those viewers agree that these are high-quality works of art, despite their lack of giant rampaging robots, dinosaurs or superheroes.

But it’s that lack of recognition for “popcorn flicks” that has alienated casual viewers from checking out the annual telecast of the ceremony.  Not enough people have seen many of these movies to care to see which ones come out on top.  The stuffy old-fashioned format is also a turn-off to folks who might otherwise tune into the MTV Movie & TV Awards, which courts younger viewers or the Golden Globes, where the celebrities in attendance drink a lot of alcohol leading to more entertaining appearances once they hit the stage.  There was recently also the “#oscarssowhite” controversy that called the institution out for only recognizing works from and featuring white artists.

The Academy has invited younger, more popular stars to present awards, in an attempt to draw younger viewers, but that can only do so much.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (who distribute the Oscars) is making a play to entice fresh eyeballs and the biggest shift is introducing a controversial Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film category, meant to crown projects that are too lowbrow for the usual awards.  Last year, a popular genre film, ‘The Shape of Water‘ won the ultimate award for Best Picture, but that’s a rarity.  Warner Brothers was hoping to receive recognition for ‘Wonder Woman‘ which was an excellent film, regardless of the fact that it was commercial.  20th Century Fox hung similar hopes on ‘Logan’ the gritty, emotional film based on Marvel’s ‘X-Men’ comics franchise.  At least ‘Logan’ got a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.  But typically, science fiction, fantasy, and comic book movies are vanquished to the technical categories, like Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects.

Of course, some argue that this award “cheapens” the prestige that the Oscars currently hold.

The other massive change is that the Academy Awards telecast is going to be locked into a tighter three-hour broadcast.  They’ve been trying to fix this issue for years, by playing “outro” music in the middle of some winners’ acceptance speeches (to tell them to shut the hell up).  It hasn’t really worked, as winners often cry out to stop the music so they can finish their spiel.

Since most viewers don’t care about the more fringe awards, the Academy is going to limit the live telecast to the bigger categories and shift others to be presented during commercial breaks.  Those will still be filmed, with edited clips shown in montages later.  After all… how many people have seen the Best Animated Short nominees.  Or the Best Foreign Films?  It’s great that those people want to give thanks, but even in these smaller categories, the speeches tend to ramble on and on.  This is their moment in the sun, after all, but from a “watching this at home” perspective… “I have never seen your short, I don’t know who you are, I don’t know who you’re thanking… I don’t care.”

One final change is that the awards show plans to shift its telecast to early February, which will cut short the window for eligibility.  But that won’t happen until the 2020 show.

Below, you can read the email sent to voting members of the Academy.

How do you feel?  Should the Oscars only honor the best of the best, or should they acknowledge the achievements of more commercial films?

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Dear Member,

Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.

The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.

Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:

1. A three-hour Oscars telecast

We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.

To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.

2. New award category

We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.

3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars

The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.

The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

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.

John Bailey and Dawn Hudson