Academy Retreats on ‘Popular’ Oscar Category for Now

The "Popular Film" Oscar Is Dead, for Now Anyway

Well, we can’t say this was a popular idea to begin with.

A month following the divisive announcement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that it would be incorporating a Best Popular Film category beginning at the 2019 Oscars, the organization confirmed it’s backtracking on the idea—for now. In a statement obtained by Variety, the Academy came to a collective decision that this Popular category “merits further study,” and as such will not be making its intended February ceremony debut. Without directly mentioning the significant, head-scratching backlash the organization received with this development, the Academy said it would be “remaining committed to celebrating a wide spectrum of movies,” while also recognizing that implementing any new award “creates challenges for films that have already been released.”

“There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson explained in the statement. “We have made changes to the Oscars over the years, including this year, and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.” The Academy wouldn’t confirm that 2020 would instead be the category’s new debut date, only clarifying that the other previously announced changes to the telecast—which include cutting down the running time to three hours—would proceed next year as planned.

Interestingly, when the Academy announced this Best Popular Film category last month, details of the award were still being finalized, with the only sliver of intel offered being that a film could be nominated for both Popular Film and Best Picture. (The term “popular” was generally surmised to mean blockbusters or popcorn films, but again, the Academy didn’t set any sort of guidelines.) It’s say to safe Black Panther would’ve easily swept the category—not like they wanted it anyway.