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When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed plans to present an award for popular films at future ceremonies, the announcement was met with an immediate response and most of it wasn't good. The award was criticized from many corners and now it appears the Oscars may now be considering pulling back on the award and either delaying the presentation of the gold statue or potentially even killing it altogether.
One of the major criticisms of award shows in general, and the Oscars, in particular, is that the movies that win awards are not the same ones that audiences mostly go to see. One of the ways that this actually impacts the awards is in the area of TV ratings, which reportedly led ABC, who has the current contract to broadcast the Oscars, to suggest a new category that recognizes achievement in popular film.
While some have praised the decision, many have been critical of it, believing that that will actually reduce the likelihood that "popular films" will be considered for the Best Picture award if they have their own separate category. Now, the L.A. Times is reporting that unnamed members of the Acadamy are telling the paper that the new category could be delayed and not presented next year, assuming it ever gets presented at all.
Of course, part of the reason for a delay might be the need to simply figure out what the criteria for such an award would be. Even when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made the announcement it seemed it was still working on the concept and didn't really have things figured out yet. Exactly what it would take for a movie to be eligible for a popular movie award, nevermind what criteria voters should use when deciding who to vote for, seems incredibly vague.
The initial reports were that ABC was not swayed by the backlash, feeling that the awards have changed a lot over time and that changes are generally accepted eventually, even if there is a critical response to start. This makes it sound like quite the opposite is true as far as the Academy is concerned.
It's almost certainly true that more people will pay attention to the Oscars if the movies they saw and enjoyed have the potential to win awards, but the Academy is clearly having trouble figuring out how to do that. Of course, not automatically discounting every superhero movie and science fiction movie with an explosion in it might be one way, but that doesn't appear to be one of the available options. This will certainly continue to be a topic of contention through next year's ceremony. We may not even know if the popular movie award is actually being given out until the nominees are announced early next year.