The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that “further study” was needed before it committed to presenting an award for its previously announced “outstanding achievement in popular film” at the annual Oscars ceremony, The New York Times reports. The decision followed the organization’s private board meeting on Tuesday night, almost exactly one month after the Academy announced its plan to begin presenting the new award at the 2019 ceremony, causing widespread consternation.
Dawn Hudson, the chief executive of the Academy, did not entirely abandon the idea of a category for popular film. However, she acknowledged in a statement that, “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.”
“We will continue to evolve,” Hudson added.
The Academy declared its intention to honor blockbuster movies in a separate category in a letter to its board of governors on August 8th. “We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world,” Hudson and Academy president John Bailey wrote. “The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.” However, they remained vague about the “eligibility requirements and other key details” that would determine which movies could compete for “outstanding achievement in popular film.”
The response to this announcement was swift and frequently negative, appearing to many like a desperate response to the low ratings of the 2018 Oscars broadcast. Perhaps even more troubling, the new award appeared to imply that a popular film was not also worthy of consideration for Best Picture.
The other announcement that the Academy made on August 8th is still moving forward: In 2019, it promised to keep the Oscars broadcast to three hours. Last year, the televised ceremony was close to four hours long — time enough for a movie buff to catch a briskly paced double feature.