Oscars ceremony to be shortened, 'popular' category added as ratings slide

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"We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide", the board of governors at the Academy of Motion Pictures said in a letter to members.

Vanity Fair has dubbed it the "Black Panther award", and voiced concerns that such a category could lead to a "separate but equal" mentality regarding such massively popular films as they exist alongside more traditional Oscar fare.

The film Academy has announced a number of changes to the Oscars, including the introduction of a new category. To accommodate a three-hour ceremony, select categories will be presented during commercial breaks and some winning moments will be edited and later aired during the broadcast. More often than not, the biggest films of the year are shut out from the main award categories, with the exception of the technical categories like makeup and special effects.

They have also set an earlier air date for their 2020 awards ceremony, telling fans to mark their calendars for February 9.

IndieWire chief film critic Eric Kohn told The Washington Post that the "crass" category frustrates him.

Capping the telecast was meant to help in "delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide". None of the Best Picture winners over the last five years broke $100 million in the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

The move quite clearly seems to be an effort to reinvigorate interest in the Oscars with the show's TV ratings declining severely in recent years, the hope being that seeing more blockbuster titles in the awards show might prompt more casual audiences to tune in.

Scott Feinberg reports that the Academy has chose to only feature select wins on the telecast to keep the show trimmed to a solid three hours.

And that's just it; while the Academy is trying to stay relevant in an ever-changing media landscape, this newfangled "Popular Film" category is bound to be controversial.

The sweeping changes, to be introduced for the February 2019 ceremony in Hollywood, will also include handing out some of the 24 Academy Awards during commercial breaks in the televised broadcast.

Last year, "Wonder Woman's" complete shutout aroused an uproar from many who consider the first female-headlined superhero film award-worthy, and as Woerner pointed out, Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" was nominated for eight Academy Awards, but not best picture. "We have the MTV Movie Awards for that kind of junk", he said. Here's what they had to say in a message sent out to members recently.

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