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For almost 100 years, the Oscars have been rewarding films and performances with an often-long-winded show primarily featuring movies more popular among critics than the masses. Viewership of the awards show itself also hit a low when 19% fewer people watched the show in 2018 in comparison to 2017. When the Academy announced a brand new Oscar category for its 91st award show to recognize "Outstanding Achievement in a Popular Film," it was instantly met with plenty of critical backlash from the film community. As details of the category are still being worked out by the Academy, apparently not all of Hollywood is against the award show shuffle. Producer Jason Blum expressed his support for the new Oscars category, chocking it up to its need to stay connected with a wider audience. Here's what Blum had to say:
I think it's a great thing. I think they have to shake up that show. I think the Academy is so important, and what the Academy does is help us as producers make more commercially challenging movies. In order to do that, the Academy Awards has to be relevant and make people want to watch it. I think they took a step in the right direction.
While Jason Blum stood up for the Academy during the premiere of his newest release, BlacKkKlansman, director Spike Lee told the The Hollywood Reporter that the decision seemed to come out of left-field. Although Blum's remarks are controversial within his community, they do hold some truth. If the Oscars continue to drop in ratings, they will soon cease to be relevant for moviegoers, and thus filmmakers. While the beauty of the Oscars is often to draw in awareness of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, creating a draw of popular films that were seen more commercially could fix the award show's current problem. When last year's Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water, took home the revered title, it had only made $50 million at the box office. Since the Oscars, The Shape of Water scored just $13 million more, meaning its title didn't sway too many moviegoers to jump to see it.
Jason Blum has produced a few Oscar contenders in his extensive filmography. He had a producing credit on Best Picture nominees Get Out and Whiplash. Considering the monumental success of Get Out, if the "Popular Film" category existed last year, his film could have scored an alternative win in that category. Blum is also the founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions, which has produced a string of horror genre releases recently with Truth of Dare, The First Purge and Happy Death Day, to name a few.
As a combination of pushback and support for the new Oscar category continues, the Academy isn't likely to budge on its decision, as it's motivated by boosting ratings and keeping the show interesting. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage.