In a message to the Academy’s elite membership, Group President John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson announced the new category, along with the news that the now-three hour telecast would be taking place earlier in the year; in early February.
The move has earned scorn and ire from Academy members, who grumble about how commercial the experience is becoming, and how they weren’t consulted prior to the announcement. The news that some awards would also now be handed out during commercial breaks in order to keep things moving was also met with disapproval. However, the Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film category has received widespread praise from the general public, who have considered the Oscars too cliquey for some time. Indeed, the 2017 contenders for Best Picture were the lowest-grossing bunch in the recent years, with many decrying the focus on avant garde affair over films audiences had actually seen.
The changes come as the 2017 awards show, the Oscar’s 90th, was the lowest watched in history. Time will tell if these changes will have any discernible impact, or if the Academy has simply lost its relevancy.