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Academy Awards promise a leaner show, and a new Oscar category for popular movies

AMPAS(LOS ANGELES) -- Remember that Chris Rock Oscars bit in 2016 where Rock, that year's host, quizzed people on the street as to whether or not they'd seen that year's Academy Award-nominated movies?  And it turned out that many people hadn't even heard of the movies in question, let alone seen them?  Well, that may soon change.

Perhaps as a reaction to last year's ratings for the 90th annual Academy Awards, which were the lowest ever, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tweeted today that a new category is "being designed around achievement in popular film."

This new category will be implemented in time for the 2019 telecast, scheduled for February 24.  This means that box office blockbusters that aren't generally seen as Oscar fare, such as Black Panther and The Last Jedi, could win awards.

The Academy also announced that the ceremony's 2020 show will air much earlier in the year: February 9, to be exact.

The most welcome piece of news, though, is that the Academy says it will take steps to battle the show's tendency to run long -- way too long, in many cases -- and create a "more globally accessible, three-hour telecast."

To cut down on the show's run time, some awards will be presented live in the theater during commercial breaks, and the winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the later broadcast. Categories that will be handled this way will be determined at a later date.

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