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Academy updates ceremony, hopes for increased viewership

Janiyah Gilley and Jared Russell

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It has been 91 years since the Oscars first aired, and now the famous award ceremony is getting upgrades including a shorter viewing time to catch up with the 21st century.

After last year’s record low viewership, the Academy announced two major changes to the award ceremony that have caused backlash from viewers and Hollywood alike. The most discussed change was a new “Popular Film” category, which would have included movies such as

“Ready Player One” and “Black Panther.” One month after this
category was announced, the Academy decided it needed to “further investigate the topic” before implementing it.
“The new category would showcase what is popular around the world and show examples of what the biggest film genres are currently,” senior Mathis Stressing said.

Last year’s big winners, “The Shape Of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Of Ebbing Missouri,” received critical acclaim, but not many people were familiar with the films. In “The Shape Of Water’s” entire theatrical run, the movie made a total of 57 million dollars worldwide, compared to “Black Panther,” which made 670 million dollars in its domestic run alone. Statistically speaking, big hits at the box office don’t win awards all that often. The Academy hoped this new category would entice viewers to watch the ceremony if their favorite movies of the year were represented.

“Just because a movie is nominated, it isn’t necessarily good. If my favorite film was nominated, I would watch [the ceremony],” secondary theater teacher Erin Gamble said.

While the popular film category may be off the roster for this year’s ceremony, the category may not be completely done for. The chairman of the Board of Directors, Robin Swicord, stated that the category will be discussed further.

“Movies are great because of actors, visual effects, makeup and all these other features that make a film unique, so even if it’s not critically acclaimed, films should still have a shot at an award.” junior Jessica Dyer said.

One change that viewers will actually see this year is a shorter broadcast. Past years have had runtimes of four or more hours, but this year the Oscars will have a runtime of only three hours. This means that some awards will be presented during commercial break, a decision that has also received criticism from the recipients of certain awards who feel they won’t get the recognition that they deserve. It was announced that up to eight categories will receive their awards during the commercial break. However, the Academy does plan to edit winning moments to be aired later in the broadcast.

“They shouldn’t present awards that could possibly interest people while they are not able to watch it,” Stressing said. “It defeats the purpose of even televising it.”

With just three months to go until the 92nd Oscars, it is unclear if there will be an additional category in this year’s telecast, but the Academy hopes the other changes will result in higher viewership anyway.

“I don’t usually watch the Oscars, but if people I actually cared about were nominated, I would,” Dyer said.