While there are millions of people out there who hold their breath every time an Oscar is about to be awarded during the annual Academy Awards ceremony, there are probably just as many who are muttering, “Didn’t see it…didn’t see it… didn’t see it.” Let’s face it, the nominees and winners usually consist of films whose artistic merits are so high that they just don’t appeal to the mainstream audience. But now the Academy is doing something about it. Here’s what they’ve tweeted:
“Change is coming to the #Oscars. Here’s what you need to know: A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film; we’ve set an earlier airdate for 2020: mark your calendars for February 9; we’re planning a more globally accessible three-hour telecast.”
Now allow us to call in our translators to let you know what all of this really means, but in reverse order. “A more accessible three-hour telecast” means that for decades, the Oscars have gone on for way too long — about four hours — and, considering that much of the audience has to go to work the next morning, they’re tuning out in droves. This is a means of keeping them around longer.
As to an earlier airdate in 2020, that’s to bring the awards closer to the actual release of many of the nominated films so that people can actually still remember them. Many of the nominees are released in the fall through Christmas, so the longer you get into the following year, the more apathy you get among viewers who find themselves asking, “When did that come out?”
And, finally, there’s the new category for achievement in popular film. Now, admittedly, this sort of thing has been well handled by the People’s Choice, MTV, and even the Teen Choice Awards, but popular films (i.e. commercial blockbusters) are pretty much ignored by the Oscars as a matter of principle. Two exceptions that come to mind are Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which won for Best Picture (among other things) in 2004; and Heath Ledger’s post-humous award for Best Supporting Actor in 2008’s The Dark Knight. So this means that the films the vast majority of moviegoers care about (proven by the fact that they go back to see them over and over again) will finally get their moment in the spotlight, even if it is only for a single award. With this in mind, our prediction is that Marvel Studios will compete against itself this year with Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. Let the best superhero win!
Basically, all of this is happening for a single reason: last year’s ratings were the lowest ever for the Oscars’ telecast, and they’re trying to do anything they can to step the viewer drop-off. Good luck!