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Oscars to add ‘best popular film’ award, shorten gala

Organizers of the Oscars – under fire for plummeting ratings and accused of elitism – on Wednesday announced the creation of a new category to honor top blockbusters and said they would shorten the ceremony to attract more viewers.

“Change is coming to the Oscars,” tweeted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has traditionally put together the glittering awards gala each year in late February or early March.

Earlier this year, the 90th Oscars on March 4 lasted nearly four hours, and posted all-time low television ratings with 26.5 million viewers.

For 2019, organizers are hoping to produce a “more accessible” three-hour show – by presenting some of the awards during commercial breaks, Academy president John Bailey and chief executive officer Dawn Hudson told members.

Edited excerpts of those presentations will then be shown during the broadcast.

They will also create a new award for “outstanding achievement in popular film” – a response to accusations that for the past decade or more, the Academy has honored arthouse fare only seen by limited audiences.