On the same day as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences re-elected president John Bailey (Cinematography), it has been announced that a new award for popular films will be introduced starting at the 91st annual Oscars ceremony on 24th February 2019.
Created as a response to declining TV ratings over the past decade, including the lowest ratings in the ceremony’s telecast history in 2018 – 26.5million in the United States – the award for “Achievement in Popular Film” will look to celebrate the blockbusters, action movies and superhero franchises that the academy has previously dismissed, with Black Panther already being considered a front-runner due to its support from within the industry and previous rumours of it making a strong push for the major Oscars, such as Best Picture.
But the academy didn’t stop there.
Starting in 2019, the Oscars will no longer broadcast every award via the telecast, choosing instead to present “less popular” awards during the advertisement breaks. The academy has yet to announce which categories will be cut from the broadcast, but have moved quickly to assure those representing said groups within the academy that a video package outlining the winners will be aired later in the show.
It has also been announced that starting in 2020, the awards special will be moved from its late February date (the 24th in 2019) to an early February date, with the ceremony taking place that year on 9th February 2020.
Here is the full text from the messages sent to members (via THR):
Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.
The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.
Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:
1. A three-hour Oscars telecast
We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.
To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.
2. New award category
We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.
3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars
The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.
The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.
We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.
We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.
John Bailey and Dawn Hudson
The Academy later issued an addendum:
While the details for a popular film category are still being finalized, a single film is eligible for an Oscar in both categories — Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film and the Academy Award for Best Picture. The new category will be introduced this coming year, at the 91st Oscars. In creating this award, the Board of Governors supports broad-based consideration of excellence in all films.