Looks like the Oscars are putting that whole Best Popular Film category idea on ice, at least for the moment. On Thursday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced they would not be introducing the new category this year because of the “challenges” posed to films that have already been released.
“The Academy recognized that implementing any new award nine months into the year creates challenges for films that have already been released,” the governing body said in a statement, according to Slate.
The statement also mentioned that the Board of Governors will continue discussions around the “popular film” category—which was roundly criticized when the Academy announced it in August.
Many were disappointed with the timing of the Academy’s decision in announcing the new award the same year that Black Panther, a huge critical and commercial success, would presumably be eligible for a Best Picture award.
In the past, the Oscars have famously shunned more popular films (read: box office winners) for weighty period pieces when it comes to their most coveted category (just bathe a bitch in British accents, why don’t you?) Many noted the new category was a ploy to get more viewers, and others pointed out that it would essentially function as a “second-best picture” award, effectively diluting the prestige of both categories and confusing filmmakers, Academy voters and film lovers alike. Additionally, some said that Best Popular Film sounded patronizing, and many speculated that conservative Academy voters would misuse the category to appease those demanding more diverse film selections.
At any rate, this certainly doesn’t change Black Panther’s game plan. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Disney hired a veteran Oscar strategist to oversee the film’s campaign for Best Picture back in August. If the film secures a Best Picture nomination, it would be the first superhero film to ever receive one.