It's confirmed: Oscars will not introduce 'Most Popular' movie category
The Academy of Motion Picture and Sciences, that awards the Oscars, shelved their recent plan to introduce a 'Most Popular' movies category. This decision was taken following a major backlash from fans, critics and award pundits alike, who saw this as a sell-out. Notably, Academy's President, John Bailey said that the move was well-intentioned and they would work on the particulars and reintroduce it.
The problem with the new category
The 'Most Popular' film category getting shelved just a month after its announcement is not surprising. It was announced suddenly and without much fine-tuning. Considering how no metric for popularity had been decided, it seems wise for the Oscars to have shelved the project. Furthermore, introducing a new category this late in the year creates challenges for films that have already been released.
The idea was fine, plan not so much
Although there are no fixed criteria yet to define a 'popular' film, Bailey commented that the release size and box-office collections would be considered as the parameters. This would open doors for films like 'Black Panther' and even animated movies to compete in 2 categories.
Further, Bailey reveals idea behind new much-talked about category
Though the 'Most Popular' movie category was not well thought out, the intentions were good. Bailey expressed surprise at the criticism, saying that the category was introduced to allow 'middle pictures' like 'A Quiet Place' to gain recognition. These are mostly movies that either did not get made by big studios or could never hope to compete for the 'Best Film' category.
The times, they are changing
Last year, the Oscars saw the lowest turnout in terms of audience. This prompted the board to make some changes like shortening the ceremony to three hours. Bailey recognized the fact that Oscars would need to change, include more public participation to avoid being a static award. Thus, they plan to work on the new category and introduce it as early as next year.
The need for a popular films category
All said and done, the need for political correctness in the film industry has influenced the kind of movies that get awarded best picture. Last three years saw smaller budget films with liberal-leaning political messages get recognition. Under such circumstances, it is the duty of the Oscars to introduce a new category to allow other films a chance, based not just on popularity but critical reception.