Oscars add new category for 'popular film,' but what does that mean?

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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. The annual awards show usually runs over three hours, with the longest show clocking in at four hours and 20 minutes minutes in 2002.

Ironically, the Academy will look like it had a great idea here next Oscarcast, but a lot of that will be if the billion-dollar ceiling-shattering zeitgeist Marvel movie Black Panther gets nominations, especially if the film is in the mix for Best Picture.

The board of governors announced the changes in a letter to academy members after the board's Tuesday meeting.

The statement added that "eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming", though it's quite reasonable to expect that the award will require a minimum box office gross to ensure only truly populist movies make the cut.

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The next Oscars air Sunday, February 24, 2019.

- For starters, they want to commit to a three-hour telecast, arguing, "To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined)".

The move quite clearly seems to be an effort to reinvigorate interest in the Oscars with the show's TV ratings declining severely in recent years, the hope being that seeing more blockbuster titles in the awards show might prompt more casual audiences to tune in.

The airdate has been bumped up just for the 2020 telecast ― from February 23 to February 9 for 2020.

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The most intriguing part of this - not marking my calendar for 2020 yet, sorry - is the one about "popular film". Winning moments will be edited and later aired during the broadcast. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.

"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. What we do know, though, is that the Academy has just taken a major step in the direction of focusing more on blockbusters, which are often viewed as a kind of art form unto themselves.

Popular film? What is this?

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