When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) issued a statement announcing that the Oscars is revamping, they would have never thought that it would lead to a severe backlash. The Academy has rolled out a few changes which include introducing a new category called Popular Film Category.
Although this is a great way to finally include blockbuster movies that people love, the category just seems to be a menial attempt to include a movie like Black Panther. The Chadwick Boseman starrer deserves a shot at Best Picture at Oscars 2019. However, it seems like the award show is not ready to let it steal the spotlight.
It is no secret that the Academy is not particularly warm towards such movies. There have been some brilliant comic-book movies which ruled several award functions but the Oscars failed to recognise them.
The Dark Knight serves as the best example in this scenario. Movie-goers still hold a grudge against the Academy for not giving the Batman movie its due. While the movie earned eight nominations and presented Heath Ledger with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, it was snubbed by the Academy in the Best Picture and Best Director (Christopher Nolan) categories. This had led to a massive backlash.
A more recent example could be Logan. The X-Men movie, which witnessed Hugh Jackman's Wolverine die, was a visual splendour. James Marigold brought a story to life which was a part of X-Men universe but it could be looked at as a standalone movie.
So when the Academy sees that Black Panther holds all the elements of a great movie: brilliant music by Kendrick Lamar, impressive parallels between the comic book world and the changing times of the real one, flawless story, amazing performances and an award-winning direction, it seems like they fear that it could possibly win the Best Picture.
The Academy knows it has to commemorate the Marvel movie and unfortunately, instead of giving it an equal shot at the Best Picture, they merely introduced a new category.
It is also interesting to note that Disney owns ABC and Disney owns Marvel. Now, Disney wanted to find a way to commemorate its Marvel films at the Oscars. Hence, the formation of the category. The new category is an insult to filmmakers who make good and non-festival based movies which are well-received by the audience and at the box office.
It is believed that the new changes (which also include cutting short the show to a three-hour telecast and an earlier airdate) are an attempt to draw more audience. Academy governor Kimberly Peirce said that they are focusing on ways to improve the show.
"We live in a constantly changing media landscape. I am working with my colleagues at the Academy exploring the future of film and television content and the way it is distributed and viewed. I want people to love and enjoy movies in all forms, and I see the value in the transformative and electrifying experience of seeing movies in a theatre," Peirce said.
"My colleagues on the Academy Board are hardworking and knowledgeable filmmakers. They're passionately working towards protecting and continuing the theatrical tradition as well as looking towards the future of film and TV and our awards show," she added.
Only time will tell if the new changes will draw more viewership. Oscars 2019 will be held on February 24, 2019.