The New “Popular Film” Category For The Oscars Sparks Outcry — And Praise — Among Industry Insiders

“If you get a popular nomination, doesn’t that pretty much mean you’re toast to win Best Picture if you’re also nominated for Best Picture?”

Posted on August 9, 2018, at 10:41 p.m. ET

When the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences introduced on Aug. eight that it was making major changes to the Oscars, social media naturally lit up in response. Among the modifications — together with a shorter ceremony and shifting some awards to be announced during commercial breaks — the creation of a model new class honoring “achievement in popular film” seemed to be paradoxically probably the most unstandard resolution.

Just just a few examples: “The film business passed away today with the announcement of the ‘popular’ film Oscar,” tweeted actor Rob Lowe. Actor Elijah Wood was extra succinct, tweeting, “Best Popular Film? oof.”

Director Edgar Wright tweeted a field workplace chart of the top-grossing motion pictures of 2018 with the road, “Isn’t this the award for Popular Movie?” And journalist Mark Harris tweeted his incredulity that the Academy would create a preferred movie award the identical yr that Black Panther grew to become the preferred film of the yr: “It truly is something that in the year … a movie made just about entirely by and with black people, grosses $700 million, the Academy’s reaction is, ‘We need to invent something separate…but equal.'”

But the response has not been uniformly unfavourable.

“This is a dialogue that will continue up until the show,” producer Michael Shamberg (Erin Brockovich) informed BuzzFeed News, referring to the social media uproar concerning the standard movie class. “It will transform into ‘what should win?’ not ‘should they do it or not?’ And you’re going to get a lot of people invested in one of those great internet conversations about what should win, and that internet conversation is going to attract the audience that the Academy wants to watch the show. So it’s all for the good.” (Shamberg is a guide for BuzzFeed Studios.)

The Academy’s resolution to create the class was extensively seen as an acknowledgment that the awards ceremony and the awards themselves have fallen out of step with standard tastes. Eight out of the final 10 Best Picture winners grossed lower than $100 million on the home field workplace, and viewership for the newest Oscar telecast was down 19% from the earlier yr. And the working funds for the Academy largely will depend on the charges paid by ABC for the rights to broadcast the Oscars.

“They need to do everything they can to keep the show relevant.”

“The reality is the Academy needed to do something,” mentioned Kevin O’Connell, who gained Best Sound Mixing Oscar for the 2016 movie Hacksaw Ridge. “They rely too heavily on the revenue from the awards show for their own existence not [to] do anything. They need to do everything they can to keep the show relevant, give the audience an experience they can’t get any place else, and, most of all, get the ratings back up.”

Whether the favored movie class is one of the best path to that objective stays an open query. “The joke is, they have enough data to know that isn’t going to improve the ratings,” a movie trade insider with information of how the Academy operates informed BuzzFeed News. “This is only a public relations ploy to make them look related to ABC. There’s no manner Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World and all these movies which are standard [that would be nominated] are going to make folks tune in to see which one wins, as a result of at that time, who cares?”

The insider additionally identified that the bifurcation of the highest prize for live-action filmmaking may find yourself damaging the probabilities of standard movie nominees successful Best Picture.

“If you get a popular nomination, doesn’t that pretty much mean you’re toast to win Best Picture if you’re also nominated for Best Picture?” the insider mentioned. “You’ve just been labeled a popcorn movie.”

A serious movie producer, who has backed a Best Picture nominee and several other standard blockbuster popcorn motion pictures, agreed that having two classes would dilute the status of the award.

“Now we’re saying there should be two awards,” the producer mentioned. “One is the Rotten Tomato, and the other is the Box Office Mojo. That doesn’t actually seem like a good idea at all.”

Not so, mentioned Shamberg.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Blockbuster motion pictures Mad Max: Fury Road, Dunkirk, and Gravity have been all current Best Picture nominees.

“Look in any respect the nominations that Mad Max: Fury Road obtained, and gained,” he mentioned of the 2015 blockbuster hit. “It didn’t win Best Picture, but it sure got a lot of attention.” (In reality, Fury Road gained probably the most Oscars that yr.)

Shamberg additionally argued that, if Academy members are pressured to significantly contemplate standard motion pictures for Oscar consideration, they could start to see these motion pictures in a special gentle and never be so able to dismiss them as popcorn fluff.

“This is a way to get everybody to think differently about the show — the audience and the Academy voters,” he mentioned. “Maybe it is going to drive a variety of voters to see motion pictures that they do not usually see. The artistry in Black Panther is plain. It’s simply plain.”

Several individuals who spoke to BuzzFeed News additionally pointed to the Academy’s current efforts to substantively make its membership younger and more diverse as a constructive and efficient method to change which sorts of movies get nominated.

“I think the need for another category will be less relevant in the future because of the changes the Academy is making to the membership,” mentioned Ben Grossman, who gained a Best Visual Effects Oscar for Hugo in 2012. “As it gets younger and more diverse, the nominations will reflect an appetite for movies more in line with popular opinion.”

“I have no idea how you’re going to come up with any kind of criteria that is not going to just aggravate the hell out of people.”

Just what the phrase “popular” even means with regard to this class stays unclear — the Academy has solely clarified that movies nominated for the brand new class would even be eligible for Best Picture. That vacuum has spurred a substantial amount of the confusion and apprehension concerning the standard movie class, in addition to hypothesis that it might not ever come to cross.

“We’ll see what happens,” mentioned the insider. “[The Academy] may just say, ‘Ah, never mind, we’re going to think this out a little more.’ Because clearly, it’s not well thought out.”

Either manner, the flexibility to please everybody is probably going subsequent to not possible.

“I have no idea how you’re going to come up with any kind of criteria that is not going to just aggravate the hell out of people,” the producer mentioned.

He additionally famous that Netflix, which famously doesn’t reveal viewership numbers for any of its movies or TV reveals, would run into critical issues getting its options nominated for the favored movies class. Then he stopped brief, and laughed.

“If this is some brilliant strategy that is designed to force Netflix to reveal their [audience] metrics,” he mentioned, “maybe I could get behind it.”

Michael Blackmon and Krystie Yandoli contributed to this report.

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