Oscars Nixes Plan For Popular Film Category Pending 'Further Discussion'

The new Academy Awards category sparked fierce criticism after it was haphazardly announced last month.

After widespread criticism and outcry last month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, is shelving plans for a Popular Film category until at least the ceremony airing in 2020, conceding that it was premature.

“The Academy recognized that implementing any new award nine months into the year creates challenges for films that have already been released,” it said in a statement Thursday, explaining that it will seek “additional input.”

“We recognize the need for further discussion with our members,” CEO Dawn Hudson said in the statement.

In August, the academy announced the separate category, intended to honor “outstanding achievement in popular film.” But the announcement appeared to be haphazard, giving no details or rules on what would constitute a “popular film.”

Many critics saw the new category as a play for ratings, since much of the academy’s revenue comes from ad sales for the televised ceremony on ABC. Viewership has substantially dropped over the past decade, but in part because of changing television and media habits, not necessarily because of the ceremony or the movies that are honored.

In 2009, the academy widened the number of movies in the Best Picture category, in large part due to criticism that the 2008 blockbuster “The Dark Knight” had not been nominated.

Other changes to the show announced earlier this year will go on as planned, including shortening the ceremony by giving out some awards during commercial breaks and moving the date of the 2020 ceremony to earlier in February.

In the statement Thursday, the academy did not specify which awards would not air live but said they would rotate each year and be selected in collaboration with the ceremony’s producers.

The 91st Academy Awards will air on Feb. 24.

This post has been updated with more background on the Academy Awards.

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