August 8, 2018 1:51 pm
Updated: August 9, 2018 7:50 am

The Academy introduces new Oscar category and statue: Outstanding Popular Film

WATCH ABOVE: Oscar seek more viewership with 'Outstanding Popular Film' award

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The Oscars are adding a new category to honour popular films and promising a brisk three-hour ceremony and a much earlier air date in 2020.

John Bailey, the newly re-elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, says in an email to members Wednesday morning that the Board of Governors met Tuesday night to approve the three major changes. Eligibility requirements for the popular film category will be forthcoming.

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“We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The board of governors took this charge seriously,” the Academy said in a letter to members, which was made available to media.

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Ratings for the 90th Academy Awards fell to an all-time low of 26.5 million viewers, down 19 per cent from the previous year and the first time the glitzy awards ceremony had fewer than 30 million viewers since 2008. It also clocked it at nearly four hours, making it the longest show in over a decade.

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The board has now said that they are “committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours.” In the letter, they explain that this will be achieved partly by “present[ing] select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined).” Those categories will not be removed from the telecast; instead, “the winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.”

The 2019 ceremony will air Feb. 24, while the 2020 ceremony will move to Feb. 9.

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Many people took to social media to criticize the new category.

—With files from the Associated Press

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