The Oscars have made an announcement regarding the addition of a new category. It is the first time a new category has been added since 2001. In a statement from Academy president John Bailey and C.E.O. Dawn Hudson, it has been revealed that Outstanding Popular Film will be a new award at next year's ceremony, one of three changes to the show shared Wednesday. The ceremony will also be shortened in length and will take place on an earlier date, effective in 2020.
The addition of Outstanding Popular Film is the first new category since 2001 when Best Animated Feature made its debut as part of the show. "Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming," reads the statement. Vanity Fair has speculated that the change could be in part due to the massive success of the Marvel film Black Panther this year. If this is true, it would be the second time in recent memory that the Academy has made changes based on the success of a major film. After Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight was not included in the Best Picture category, the academy received backlash for snubbing the film. The following year, the category was widened from five nominees to ten. In order to fit all the awards into the new 3-hour timeslot, certain awards will be presented during commercial breaks.
In March, 26.5 million people tuned in to watch the 2018 Academy Awards, this is a record low for a ceremony that’s been losing viewers lately. In 2017, nearly 33 million people watched the Oscars, again down from 34.4 million the year before.