POPULAR PICTURE OSCAR (Temporarily) JUNKED

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It has been a prevailing notion that the Academy Awards, once the pinnacle of achievement for the film industry as judged by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), is now losing the interest and support of the general audience. One major factor for this is the dissonance between what movies and performers are awarded Oscars by the Academy, and the films that actually make millions upon billions on the global box office. AMPAS has tried to consider this notion by introducing a new “Popular Picture” category for the next Oscars, but now they have decided not to.

USA Today has it that the AMPAS has scrapped any plans to include the new Popular Picture category for the next Academy Awards in February of 2019. The new award, honoring “popular achievement in film”, was first revealed by AMPAS last month in what they felt was the appropriate venue for where contemporary box office blockbusters, of which the nominees for Best Picture rarely are, would still receive the appropriate honors for their success in attracting moviegoers. Much to the Academy’s surprise however, audiences whom they hope to attract to the Oscar Awards reacted negatively to the Popular Picture award.

A statement released by AMPAS on Thursday, September 6, explained why the Popular Picture category is being removed before it was even awarded. “The Academy recognized that implementing any new award nine months into the year creates challenges for films that have already been released,” the announcement went. AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson adds, “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.” To that end, the Academy board of directors will go back to the drawing board to further research a “Popular” award.

The Oscars have been perceived as having failed to adapt or evolve to changing societal viewpoints as it tried to maintain conventions for choosing nominees and then winners of the awards. From its high point in 1998 when James Cameron’s “Titanic” won Best Picture in front of a 57-million strong TV audience, it has since been reduced to a pitiful 26.5 million in the 90th ceremony held just this March.

While the Popular Picture category is gone, other changes the Academy hopes to implement for the 91st awards in February 24 next year include a telecast restructuring that would cut down the ceremony on TV to just three hours, with six to eight film categories having their winners announced during the commercials (live at the Dolby Theater); post-production editing will then showcase the “commercial-break award” highlights for broadcast on TV.

Image courtesy of SFGate

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