When the Academy announced its intention to add a new category to their annual awards ceremony, film fans were up in arms. Why did the Academy create the Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film category? Was it only to honor blockbusters? Does it dilute the integrity of the Oscars? These are questions that are still highly debated. But what many assumed, no matter your thoughts on the category itself, is that this is going to be an easy Oscar win for Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther.”
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But if you’re Disney, Marvel Studios, or Kevin Feige, your Oscar sights are not set on the Popular Film category. No, you’re looking at Best Picture.
According to a new report from the Los Angeles Times, the folks behind “Black Panther” don’t care about the Popular Film category. What they want hasn’t changed since their awards campaign began — they want that coveted Best Picture nomination.
“I would like to see the hard work and the effort and the vision and the belief of the talented filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who sat across the table from us a few years ago and said, ‘I have been wrestling with questions about my past and my heritage and I think I really want to tell a story within this movie.’ That he did it so unbelievably well and with so much impact … seeing that potentially being recognized is what excites me the most,” says Feige.
And LAT confirms that the new Popular Film category has not affected Disney’s Oscar campaign for “Black Panther.” They still want a Best Picture nom. But given the Oscars’ history of neglecting to honor superhero films, it’s a clear uphill battle.
Of course, “Black Panther” isn’t your typical superhero film. The movie was a cultural phenomenon based on the predominantly Black cast and the MCU’s first Black lead superhero. So, many think that an Oscar snub for the film would have more implications than past superhero film snubs.
An Oscar consultant spoke to the Times and said, “Right now, I think [academy Chief Executive] Dawn Hudson would crawl in a hole if ‘Black Panther’ gets snubbed for best picture and winds up landing in the popular film category. The funny thing is that Dawn would be way more disappointed than anyone at Marvel.”
When the LAT asked Feige what he would think about “Black Panther” getting a Best Picture nom, he said, “I think it would be wonderful. The people behind the camera, the people on screen that acted in the movie, any of them being recognized would bring us great joy because they did tremendous work. And it’s always nice when tremendous work is recognized.”
It’s clearly going to be interesting to see what happens over the next several months. 2018 might be the first year of the Popular Film category, as well as the first year that a film gets nominated for both Best Picture and Popular Film.