Oscar changes set ‘Black Panther’ up to rule 2019 Academy Awards

August 9, 2018 GMT

Oscar changes set ‘Black Panther’ up to rule 2019 Academy Awards

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Few things can be more stubborn than the Oscars. But maybe that’s been (a big) part of the awards show’s appeal.

Yes, the Academy Awards routinely honor movies most of the general public haven’t seen. But it is admirable to see the Academy hold true to its artistic integrity. That’s going to change to some extent, for better or worse.

Due to dwindling ratings, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors announced big changes to the annual ceremony, beginning with the 91st Academy Awards next February.

The show will no longer present every single category live, a la the Tony Awards and Grammys. This, along with other technical measures, will keep the Oscars from running over three hours.

The other big change is the addition of a new category “for outstanding achievement in popular film.” The category will honor big box office films that people actually saw. This is a clear push for a ratings boost, as the strength of the show’s viewership typically coincides with how popular the top contenders are.

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This is good news for “Black Panther.” The ninth highest grossing film of all time was already considered a contender for Best Picture, an award it could still earn a nomination for. But “Black Panther” has to also be considered the favorite for the new “popular film” category.

In its last move, the Academy has also moved up the 2020 awards show from Feb. 23 to Feb. 9. It’ll be interesting to see how the public (and mostly movie snobs) receive the changes.