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The Oscars Are Making An Award For Movies People Really Like, Moving Other Awards To Commercials

File: Tom Cruise (handsome movie star) attends the European premiere of Rock Of Ages at Odeon Leicester Square on June 10, 2012 in London. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)
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Could the Oscars go from awarding Moonlight and the Shape of Water to Mission: Impossible -- Fallout and Deadpool 2?

The Academy Awards have often come under fire for not being mainstream enough. They tried to address this by expanding the number of best picture nominees, but the move didn't end up leading to that many more blockbusters making it to the podium.

Now they're taking another step toward the mainstream: designing a new category around popular film. The decision was announced to Academy members Tuesday night, before the Academy announced it to the public this morning. And it follows the Oscars having their lowest ratings ever this year.

Details on how this new category will work have yet to be announced. Will it be based on box office? Fan voting? If the movie starred Tom Cruise and/or Chris Pratt and/or The Rock? We're eagerly waiting to find out (and rooting for that last one).

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Another major change was announced: they're going to work harder to keep the running time under control. After a show that clocked in at 3 hours and 53 minutes this year, they're promising what they call "a more globally accessible" broadcast, clocking in at three hours.

Part of that is the aspect that will likely be the most widely felt inside the film industry -- some categories will be presented during commercial breaks in the ceremony, with edited clips of the winners to air later in the show. They haven't announced which categories are going to fall in these slots, but below-the-line craft awards appear to be the most likely targets, like costume design and visual effects.

Their last new announcement was that the 2020 awards will move up a little earlier in the awards season, moving from their previously announced date of Feb. 23 to Feb. 9. The 2019 awards will remain around the same time, airing on Feb. 24. So, set your DVRs now.

Read the full letter to Academy members below:

Dear Member,

Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.

The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.

Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:

1. A three-hour Oscars telecast

We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.

To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.

2. New award category

We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.

3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars

The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.

The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.

We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.

John Bailey and Dawn Hudson

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