LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Academy of Motion Pictures said on Thursday that its proposed new “popular film” Oscar category needs further study and that it will not be introduced as planned at next year’s awards ceremony.
FILE PHOTO: Oscar statues dry in the sunlight after receiving a fresh coat of gold paint as preparations begin for the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, U.S., February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a statement that “implementing any new award nine months into the year creates challenges for films that have already been released.”
It said it would “not present the new Oscars category at the upcoming 91st awards” in February 2019.
The proposal to create a new category to honour popular films was met with a huge backlash from the movie industry and film reviewers when it was announced last month.
“There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognise the need for further discussion with our members,” Academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said in Thursday’s statement.
It was widely seen as a bid to increase television viewers for the annual Oscar ceremony. The U.S. audience for the March 2018 ceremony was 26.5 million viewers, the smallest in awards’ 90-year history
Critics said the idea risked creating a two-tier system that would pit “popular films”, such as superhero box office hits, against what would be seen as ‘unpopular’, smaller art house fare that tends to win the highest honours in the movie industry.
The Academy in August also sowed confusion by not outlining how it would determine eligibility for which films would compete in the popular film category, as opposed to the traditional best picture race.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Diane Craft