The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made a number of surprise announcements today regarding next year's Oscar ceremony, most of all that they will be adding a gold statue for "outstanding achievement in popular film."
The statement added that "eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming", though it's quite reasonable to expect that the award will require a minimum box office gross to ensure only truly populist movies make the cut.
The move quite clearly seems to be an effort to reinvigorate interest in the Oscars with the show's TV ratings declining severely in recent years, the hope being that seeing more blockbuster titles in the awards show might prompt more casual audiences to tune in.
The category will almost certainly see acclaimed box office hits such as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Mission Impossible: Fallout nominated, and if AMPAS truly wants to open things up to the public, an online vote for the final winner wouldn't be remotely surprising.
This is especially interesting as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never won an Oscar - embarrassingly, despite Suicide Squad grabbing a Best Makeup and Hairstyling gong last year - but that could very well change with this new award category.
As for the other announcements today, the Academy also confirmed that the telecast would be cut down to three hours (phew), though this will result in some categories (presumably the shorts and crafts awards) being doled out during commercials and edited into a montage to be aired later in the show.
Also, the 92nd Oscar ceremony in 2020 will air on the much earlier date of Sunday, February 9, presumably to battle complaints that the show's usual late-February or early-March date feels a little late.
What do you make of this announcement? Is Best Popular Film a good idea or not? Who should win? Shout it out in the comments!