LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Oscars are adding a new category to honor popular films and promising a brisk three-hour ceremony and a much earlier air date in 2020.
John Bailey, the newly re-elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and film Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in an email to members Wednesday morning that the Board of Governors met Tuesday night to approve the changes.
Ratings for the 90th Academy Awards fell to an all-time low of 26.5 million viewers, down 19 percent from the previous year and the first time the glitzy awards ceremony had fewer than 30 million viewers since 2008. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the ceremony also clocked it at nearly four hours, making it the longest show in over a decade.
"We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world," Hudson and Bailey wrote.
Change is coming to the #Oscars. Here's what you need to know:— The Academy (@TheAcademy) August 8, 2018
- A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film.
- We've set an earlier airdate for 2020: mark your calendars for February 9.
- We're planning a more globally accessible, three-hour telecast. pic.twitter.com/oKTwjV1Qv9
In an effort to keep future ceremonies to three hours, the awards will be presented live and during commercial breaks. Specific categories will be determined at a later date, but the winning moments will be edited and aired in a later broadcast.
Now that the Academy is adding "Popular Film" categories, I can finally continue watching an ALIEN movie instead every year— Timmy Williams (@timmyisanerd) August 8, 2018
So the Oscars are creating “a new category for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film.” It’s a golden pacifier for the forty-year-old manbabies who are always boo-hooing that their precious superhero movies never get nominated.— Sean Burns (@SeanMBurns) August 8, 2018
Oh, I see. We're going to make official the division where one kind of movie is popular and the other kind is good. That seems like a great idea, by which I mean: what a disaster.— Linda Holmes (@lindaholmes) August 8, 2018
The film academy is also shifting the date for the 92nd Academy Awards to earlier in the year. The 2019 ceremony will still air on Feb. 24, while the 2020 show will move to Feb. 9.
The addition of a popular film category caused the most chatter Wednesday morning, as a clear effort to attract a larger audience by honoring bigger and more seen films. Bailey and Hudson said eligibility requirements will be determined at a later date. It wasn't specified whether it would be added for the 91st Academy Awards this February.
still no oscar for stunt performances/choreography or voice acting but cool, why not add an award for most popular movie, to the popular movie awards— demi adejuyigbe (@electrolemon) August 8, 2018
2018: The Academy announces a new award for "Popular Film”!— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) August 8, 2018
2020: The Academy announces a new award for “Best Cinematic Universe!"
2022: The Academy announces a new award for “TV Shows that Feel Like 10-Hour Movies!"
2024: The Academy announces that “gifs are the new cinema!”
The idea that people would be mad that the Academy decided to reward "popular" films as opposed to movies that are grown in a hothouse FOR critics and Oscar voters NOT audiences is absurd. When you spend your hard earned cash on movies then we can talk. But you all see them free.— Sasha Stone (@AwardsDaily) August 8, 2018
Oscar viewership is often tied to the box-office muscle of the big nominees. The 2018 best picture winner, "The Shape of Water," had grossed $57.4 million in the United States by the time the awards aired and $63.9 million total. The biggest Academy Awards audience on record came in 1998, when the blockbuster "Titanic" was named best picture.