A new Oscars category has been announced ahead of the 91st Academy Awards and people aren't happy. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced three major changes to its ceremony, perhaps the most notable of which is the addition of a new award for outstanding achievement in popular film. While details of the new honor weren't revealed in a recent letter sent out to Academy members, the move has already been criticized. Vanity Fair has dubbed it the "Black Panther award," and voiced concerns that such a category could lead to a "separate but equal" mentality regarding such massively popular films as they exist alongside more traditional Oscar fare. As the Hollywood Reporter notes, it's that huge popularity the Academy is likely hoping will bring viewers back to the Oscars, which saw its lowest rated telecast ever this past year.
Another concern being voiced is the question of what will happen in years devoid of blockbusters like Black Panther that are are also critically acclaimed. For now, there are more questions than answers as the Academy's announcement said only that "eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming." Also revealed in the letter: first, the Academy says it will announce and hand out some awards during commercial breaks in order to keep the telecast down to a hard three hours; second, the Academy says it will move up the ceremony to Feb. 9 in what's likely a bid to avoid the awards season fatigue it fears viewers may suffer at the end of a months-long awards season. (For a palate cleanser, read about these "Oscars of food.")