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Weinstein with his Oscar in 1999.

From BEI/REX/Shutterstock.

When the Film Academy revealed on Wednesday that it will be adding an “outstanding popular film” category to the Oscars, confusion, questions, and even conspiracy theories abounded. According to a Variety report, the Disney-ABC Television Group—which will air the Oscars through 2028—had been pushing the Academy to factor more popular films into the ceremony, in an attempt to revive the telecast’s sinking viewership, which hit an all-time low this past March.

But that report still left myriad issues unanswered. Among them: what qualifies a film for popular-category contention, versus best picture? Aren’t there plenty of award shows—like the People’s Choice Awards, for example—that already celebrate more mainstream movie fare? Will this category essentially be considered some kind of “consolation prize” for films not deemed “artsy” enough for the Oscars’ big award?

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