The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is rethinking the addition of a popular film category to the Oscars after the idea proved to be largely unpopular.
“There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement Thursday. “We have made changes to the Oscars over the years – including this year – and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”
The Academy announced in August that it intended to add a category for achievement in popular film, in hopes it would open the door to movies that might otherwise be overlooked in the best picture category.
In announcing the move, the Academy left key questions unaddressed, however. Particularly, how a movie would earn the distinction of being a so-called popular film and whether a movie could be nominated in both the popular film and best picture categories.
Everyone from prominent film critics to celebrities like Rob Lowe criticized the move.
“The film business passed away today with the announcement of the ‘popular’ film Oscar,” Lowe wrote on Twitter. “It had been in poor health for a number of years. It is survived by sequels, tent-poles, and vertical integration.”
At the time, the Academy did not clarify when the category would be added, but the body’s announcement that the measure “merits further study” indicates it had been on track for addition in the upcoming Oscars cycle.
The Academy’s decision to extend honors to so-called popular films was largely considered a play for more viewers.
The most-watched telecast in Oscars history was in 1998 when “Titanic” won.
Last year’s telecast hit an all-time low in ratings with just 26.5 million viewers, a drop of 20% from the previous year.
The 91st Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2019.