Summary of “What the Oscars’ New “Popular Film” Category Says About the Art-and Business-of the Movies”

The gap between the art and the business of movies is larger than ever, and the planned changes to the Oscars announced today by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences look like a desperate response to that chasm.
The Academy plans to move the airdate of the ceremony up to early February, to shrink the telecast to three hours in order to offer “a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide,” and to create a new category “For outstanding achievement in popular film.”
Their over-all effect suggests a reaction to a much greater problem facing Hollywood: its increasing irrelevance to the art of the movies.
What’s more, in worldwide receipts-where Hollywood’s big-budget films now make a majority of their money-most of these films fell still lower in the charts, because culturally specific, locally anchored movies don’t travel as readily as ones made from preĆ«xisting fantasy sources.
When a new generation of filmmakers, richly educated in the most extreme trends of the art of the cinema thanks to the availability of VHS tapes and DVDs, brought forth movies of a new, original sensibility, they found themselves increasingly confined by the commercial demands of studio budgets and studio producers.
It’s no accident that the very notion of the Oscar campaign, of the high-powered behind-the-scenes exertion for awards, is the brainchild of Harvey Weinstein, an independent producer with Miramax who leveraged awards to vault his films and his company to a level of importance in Hollywood commensurate with that of the studios.
Because of this very commercial significance of awards for commercially minor films, the Academy’s decision to create a new award for “Popular films” is more than absurd and desperate: it’s rankly offensive.
The new category appears to be a play by the studios to siphon off some of the commercial benefits of the awards-to redistribute Oscar-related money upward from independent producers to the studios, from productions costing and yielding tens of millions to ones costing and yielding hundreds of millions.

The orginal article.