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The Academy Awards Announced a New ‘Popular Film’ Category—Now It’s Rolling It Back

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has hit pause on its new plan for an Oscar award for “achievement in popular film.”

Instead, the Academy will “examine and seek additional input,” it said in a statement Wednesday. The announcement last month of a possible new category came alongside several other changes to the annual awards ceremony’s format.

The new “popular” category was seen as an attempt by the Academy to increase the ceremony’s television ratings, which have been sinking since Titanic won 11 awards in 1998. But last month’s announcement of the new category got poor ratings from people in the industry. Some of that may have had to do with the lack of specificity in the announcement, which came over Twitter and does not appear on the Academy’s website.

Anne Thompson, writing in IndieWire, said, “The best way to get this new category across would have been to define it from the get-go…With only speculation to draw on, this vague announcement went south, fast.”

Academy CEO Dawn Hudson also told IndieWire that, “announcing this new award nine months into the awards year was more problematic for a lot of people. It posed more difficulties.”

The Academy Awards ceremony are held in February and recognize films that appeared in the preceding year.

This week’s announcement confirmed that other changes will move forward, including that future ceremonies will be capped at three hours, with some awards issued during commercial breaks and highlights shown to audiences afterward. Scientific and technical awards will also be moved to a separate ceremony in June 2020.