Oscars introduce an 'Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film' category

After receiving its lowest viewership this year, the Academy is trying to turn around its game to get back to its prestigious position by being a little less prestigious.

                            Oscars introduce an 'Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film' category

The Academy Awards on Wednesday announced a number of changes, including introducing a new category that will be allotted for "outstanding achievement in popular film." While details on the eligibility criteria are yet to be announced, it is the first time that the Oscars have introduced a new category since its best-animated film category in 2001.

The category will make its debut at the next Academy Awards ceremony, reports said.

The Academy has also revealed that the telecast will be kept under three hours, and awards for some of the 24 categories will be announced during the commercial breaks and will be later edited into the show. This year's ceremony, which saw 'The Shape of Water' take away the winning award, ran just under four hours.

In a letter sent to its members, John Bailey, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Dawn Hudson, the Academy CEO, mentioned, “We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide...present[ing] select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined)."

The Guardian reports that the move is being seen as a way for the Oscars to reach out to a wider audience, given that this year's Oscars saw the lowest viewership in its history. In 2009, the best picture nomination had included up to 10 nominees in order to bring in bigger blockbusters in its fold, marking the Oscar nominations for movies like 'Avatar', 'Inception', 'The Martian', 'Gravity', and 'Toy Story 3'. Probably including the popular movies would mean that some of the DC and Marvel blockbusters might get an entry to the Oscars, like 'Black Panther' which was a massive box office hit this year. 

Hollywood Reporter mentions that this format is quite similar to the one being utilized at the Tony Awards in order to recognize some of its lower-profile categories, in which the award giving ceremony and acceptance speeches are recorded in a pre-telecast portion of the ceremony instead of in the commercial breaks. This change certainly indicates that the Academy is in some dire need of a larger viewership, and it can now probably go to any extent for it. The Academy also notified its members about the change in dates of the 2020 Oscars which will now take place on February 9 as opposed to the previously announced date of February 23.