The Oscars Are Going To Look A Lot Different In Coming Years

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a series of changes to the annual Academy Awards on Wednesday, including the introduction of a new category. According to President John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson, the show's telecast will be shortened to a firm three hours, and the ceremony itself will be moved to an earlier date.

The new category will honor "outstanding achievement in popular film," according to the Academy's message to its members. This is the first addition to the awards slate since 2001, when best animated feature was introduced. The move has been attributed to low ratings — last year's telecast was the least-watched in history — along with the recent success of Black Panther. According to Vanity Fair, Disney has been planning an awards campaign that includes a best-picture nomination for the film. However, many have been quick to point out that the new category could be a cop-out to avoid nominating box office hits for the top award. Bailey and Hudson did not relay when the popular category would be implemented, though. 

The addition to the awards lineup seems to reflect a move the Academy made ten years ago, VF reported. When the Oscars failed to nominate The Dark Knight for best picture, the awards show faced serious backlash. "In a move widely believed to be a response to the backlash, the Academy then broadened the best-picture category from 5 nominees to 10, adding wiggle room for movies that otherwise don’t meet the institution’s stringent standards," VF reported. 

Another prominent change, the shortened telecast, will take the show from over four hours to a strict three. "To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined)," the Academy's letter read. "The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast."

Bailey and Hudson said a three-hour telecast will deliver "a more accessible Oscars" for viewers worldwide. 

As far as the earlier airdate for the awards show, the 91st Oscars — A.K.A. the show in 2019, honoring 2018's films — won't be affected. However, the 92nd Oscars will move from February 23, 2020 to February 9. That's a whole month earlier than this year's telecast. 

According to the Academy's letter, more information about the popular film category will be announced soon. Read the full message here.