The Oscars have a popularity problem.
Hollywood’s premier awards show feels bloating and boring, in no small part due to the fact that it feels like the awards go to films that no one has even heard of—let alone watched. That’s probably why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just announced that they are going to add a new award: “outstanding achievement in popular film.”
So, what does that mean? The Academy has yet to release eligibility requirements and other key details for the new award. We have to wonder how the new films will be eligible. Will it be based ticket sales? What’s it going to be called? (We nominate “Best Blockbuster.)
This isn’t the first time that the Academy has acknowledged the gap between box office success and critical acclaim. They expanded the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten to make room for more popular features in a bid to attract more viewers to the live show, capitalizing on media buzz and audience interest.
It didn’t work very well. The members responsible for nominating films for the Academy Award still prefer a more specific type of film, favoring indie favorites, cult hits, artistic productions, and “Oscar Bait.” Most of the time, viewers don’t have a horse in that race. It’s low odds that the average moviegoer has seen even one or two of the nominees!
On the one hand, who cares? It’s an industry award given out by industry insiders for excellence in film, not box office glory or gross revenue. Ticket sales don’t always equate to quality. But if the Academy also wants to attract viewers (and make advertising money on those viewers), then that’s a different problem, and maybe a new award is the solution. Maybe.
So, Black Panther’s gotta win retroactively, right?