The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is backtracking from its decision in August to create a brand new Oscars category to celebrate the best popular movies of the year.
The Academy announced Thursday that it is temporarily shelving the idea and will not debut the new award at the next Oscar ceremony in February 2019.
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Although largely panned when the news was initially announced, many saw the new award as another opportunity for blockbuster films, like Black Panther, to receive major acknowledgment at the Oscars.
Indeed, the Marvel blockbuster was a cultural juggernaut that broke records and the long-held belief the all-Black cast films were not lucrative. The movie was both a box office —at $1.3 billion gross — and critical success.
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Black Panther is already likely running for a “Best Picture” nomination and would have been a shoe-in to be nominated if the “Best Popular” category came to fruition. Yet some argued that by creating a popular film category, instead of just nominating a film for Best Picture, the Academy was finding a way to keep films they deem unworthy separate while benefitting from the added TV viewership they would provide.
Chadwick Boseman told The Hollywood Reporter last month that the film was not even campaigning for the “Best Popular” category.
“There’s no campaign [that we are mounting] for popular film; like, if there’s a campaign, it’s for best picture and that’s all there is to it,” he said.
In its statement, the Academy said it will continue to workshop the idea for the new award, adding that implementing the new award nine months into the year was challenging for films that are already out.
“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,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said Thursday. “We have made changes to the Oscars over the years — including this year — and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”
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