Academy Postpones 'Best Popular Film' Oscar by Popular Demand

Cooler heads prevailed at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which agreed to delay the ill-conceived "Popular Film Oscar" category for "further study."

The Academy announced Thursday afternoon that the proposed Popular Film Category will not be introduced for the 91st Academy Awards.

"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," Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. "We have made changes to the Oscars over the years—including this year—and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years."

According to the statement, the Academy realized it was not a good idea to announce a change of this scale with more than half of the year already over was a bad idea. "The Board of Governors continues to be actively engaged in discussions, and will examine and seek additional input regarding this category," the statement read.

The "Popular Film" award was announced in early August and was instantly controversial. The Academy never fully explained what "popular" meant, with movie fans and even actors themselves openly criticizing it. Qualifications for the award were never detailed, leaving everyone to wonder if the award was based on box office results, popularity with audiences or critics.

ABC and Disney, which broadcast the Oscars, were reportedly behind the award, pushing to get more viewers for the ceremony.

The surprising about-face comes while the 2018 award season heats up. The film festivals in Venice and Telluride already started, and Toronto is starting this week.

The Academy also announced the recipients for the 2018 Governors Awards. Producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will receive the first Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award since 2010. Actress Cecily Tyson, publicist Marvin Levy and composer Lalo Schifrin will receive honorary Oscars. The ceremony is on Nov. 18.

As for the other controversial changes announced last month, those will stay in place. The 91st Oscars will still run three hours and six to eight categories will be presented during the commercial breaks. These categories will rotate each year and edited versions of the award presentations will air at the end of the broadcast.

The 91st Oscars will still air on Feb. 24, 2019, earlier than usual. The 92nd Oscars will be even earlier, on Feb. 9, 2020. This means the Governors Awards was also pushed up to Sunday, Nov. 16, 2019 and the nomination voting will start on Jan. 2, 2020. Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 13, 2020.


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