Oscars face serious backlash amid changes

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents three major changes to battle low viewership

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced one of the most radical shakeups in the Oscars’ 90-year history, earning serious backlash from the industry. Perhaps as a try to to reverse a trend of shrinking viewership to its annual telecast, after last year's ratings for the 90th annual ceremony registered all-time low, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday that a new category is "being designed around achievement in popular film."

A representative for the Academy later confirmed that the new category will be implemented in time for next year's 92nd ceremony, which is scheduled for Feb. 24. Eligibility requirements and other key details were announced to be forthcoming, but the new category has already left the world’s film community shaking its collective head in bafflement.

Critics of this latest move point out that there's already an award for being a popular film — box office grosses and that the Oscars are meant to award artistic excellence in film and the change will turn the awards into another “popular variety show”. Fans and movie makes also stared asking how could such an award function? Will it consider just the top 20 box office pictures? The top 50? Because if the latter were applied this year then The Shape of Water would just have squeezed in.

What's more the Academy says it will take steps to battle the show's tendency to run long - way too long, in many cases - and create a "more globally accessible, three-hour telecast." And even though this is a long-sought change, there is one problem that remains. The Oscars will likely begin awarding film editing, sound, and other 'below the line' categories during commercial breaks in order to save time and move the award show along quicker, enraging those involved in so-called 'below the line' fields, including sound, makeup, and film editing. These unheralded workers believe they will be the ones shortchanged by the new changes.

“We are definitely upset,” a sound branch member who insisted on anonymity told The Hollywood Reporter. 

There is speculation in the film industry that the Academy plans to shortchange also categories like shorts, live action, and animated and documentary short. 

The film academy also announced a third change - the ceremony's 2020 show will even have earlier airdate in the year on Feb. 9. This decision will likely affect the timing of other awards, and the announcement of that year's Oscar nominees - no Hollywood agent is going to happily agree to cutting the time allotted for Oscar campaigns two weeks shorter.

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