Movies & TV / Columns

Thoughts on the Academy’s Changes to the Oscars

August 11, 2018 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its plans to change up the Oscars and the backlash was immediate. Most likely motivated by the award show’s plummeting ratings, The Academy is adding a new category for blockbuster films and will shorten the telecast by giving out some statuettes during commercial breaks.

This year, just 26.5 million people tuned in to watch the show; the lowest total in modern history. The run time of that show was three hours and 53 minutes long. A marathon viewing by any definition.

In a letter sent out to its 9,200 members, it was stated that they intended “to keep the Oscars and our academy relevant in a changing world.” First, a new category that would honor what the letter called “popular” movies, with “Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.”

The telecast will be cut to three hours from four and statuettes in “certain” categories will be awarded during commercial breaks. Which categories will be impacted should be pretty easy to garner.

The announcement wasn’t very popular online and it raised questions on how this would impact movies like Black Panther, which was getting solid buzz for Best Picture consideration.

“The film business passed away today,” the actor, Rob Lowe, wrote on Twitter, which seemed to reflect the overall feeling about the announcement.

It also calls into question of where the blockbuster’s place is in Hollywood. In 2017, not one of the nine Best Picture nominees was in the top-ten-grossing movies of the year. Of the 200 top-grossing films of the past 20 years, 42 have been animated, 28 have been Marvel or DC comic book movies, eight have been Harry Potter movies, six were Star Wars movies, five were part of the Twilight franchise, and four were installments of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean.

On the flip side, Jason Blum, whose Blumhouse Productions has Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman arriving in theaters, predicted that the revamped Oscar telecast would make more sense once the academy provided more details.

That’s what it comes down to. Specifics. As Hollywood continues to evolve in a changing culture, people feel the need to have everything laid out for them. As we learn more this can either become a clear change for the better or get bogged down into an utter mess. We’re going to find out soon enough.

What do you think about the Academy’s changes? Do they need to do more or less?