The Academy's decision to include the peculiarly titled “Outsanding Popular Film” category was a misbegotten one—so much so, that they ended up, not too soon after, axing the idea.
AMPAS president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson were trying to adhere to short-attention-spanned Joe and Jane popcorn with this category. The backlash was merited; after all, it sounded like a category that belonged more at the Nickelodeon awards or the People’s Choice awards than the Oscars.
From the Academy's point of view, the idea for this category was rather simple: the Oscars sink to new ratings lows every year, and Marvel, the industry's tentpole company, is barely, if ever, recognized by them. This was a no-brainer, capitalist-oriented decision by the Academy.
A few days ago Ethan Hawke explained his opposition to the Academy’s axed idea for a Best Achievement in Popular Film Oscar. In fact, Hawke said it would have detracted from awards season’s true goal, which is to boost the under-seen, or, more specifically, the artistically challenging films, which Joe and Jane don't usually churn out their hard-earned money to catch.
“There already is a popular Oscar,” Hawke said. “It’s such a dumb thing to say. The popular Oscar is called the box office. They’re mad they don’t get prizes. You know, well…guess what, dude? Your car is your prize. Those of us who don’t have a car need a prize.”