Los Angeles, California, USA: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday announced sweeping new changes to the ceremony’s format in the hope of retaining it’s dwindling number of Oscars telecast viewers – ahead of the 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2019.
Among the three changes — which were approved by the 54-member board of governors and announced to the organization’s members in a letter Wednesday morning — the most consequential and potentially controversial one is a new category for “outstanding achievement in popular film” that would stand apart from the traditional best picture award.
While the new category will be introduced at next year’s Oscars, the definition of what constitutes a “popular film” is at this point unclear. In its letter, the academy simply said that “eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.”
The academy said that it is moving up the date of the 92nd Oscars telecast by two weeks, from the previously announced Feb. 23, 2020, to Feb. 9, 2020.
The academy also said it is planning a more globally accessible, three-hour telecast.
Below is the full text of the Academy’s message to its members.
Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.
The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.
Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:
1. A three-hour Oscars telecast
We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.
To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.
2. New award category
We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.
3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars
The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.
The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.
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.
We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.
John Bailey and Dawn Hudson”
The Academy later issued an addendum:
“While the details for a popular film category are still being finalized, a single film is eligible for an Oscar in both categories— Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film and the Academy Award for Best Picture. The new category will be introduced this coming year, at the 91st Oscars. In creating this award, the Board of Governors supports broad-based consideration of excellence in all films.”