Blumhouse founder and genre producer extraordinaire, Jason Blum, seems to be in the minority of those who are in support of the announcement that the Oscars will include an "Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film" category at the annual Academy Awards ceremony.
“I think it’s a great thing. I think they have to shake up that show,” Blum said while speaking to The Hollywood Reporter at the Los Angeles premiere of Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, which he also produced. “I think the Academy is so important, and what the Academy does is help us as producers make more commercially challenging movies. In order to do that, the Academy Awards has to be relevant and make people want to watch it. I think they took a step in the right direction."
There was a vehement backlash from those in Hollywood yesterday when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made headlines with its announcement, which also included the idea of a three-hour ceremony moved up to an earlier date in early February.
Some insinuated a "Popular" category would somehow cheapen the prestigious awards show, with the category sounding more like something that would be a better fit at the pop culture-centric MTV Movie Awards; some were upset that this was a golden oppurtunity to add a category for stunts or motion capture performances; and others still brought up the idea that it would be sort of a backdoor for CGI-heavy blockbusters like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, which were critically-acclaimed and made a ton of money, but often aren't considered fancy enough to be included in the Best Picture category. Even so, these projects are still eligible for the top prize of the night.
Actor Robe Lowe went so far as to write:
"The film business passed away today with the announcement of the “popular” film Oscar."
Blum's production company started off small, financing sleeper hits like the Paranormal Activity franchise. Building on a foundation of small-budget horror projects that debuted to critical acclaim, Blumhouse helped turn titles such as Insidious, The Purge, Ouija, and Sinister into major cinematic cash cows. Now, the banner (partnered with Universal) has its name attached to major projects like David Gordon Green's Halloween and M. Night Shyamalan's Glass.
Given Blum's rise from small projects to make box office contenders, the producer probably sees the "Outstanding Achievment in Popular Film" category as a way for fun genre fare to get its due at the Oscars. He knows all too well what it's like to be virtually-unknown, so having smaller — or what some might call "less sophisticated" — films recognized by all of Hollywood looks to be a movement he can get behind. Even if the general consensus is still decidedly mixed.