Academy adds new Oscar category for popular films..

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Los Angeles, Aug 8 (IANS) The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Wednesday announced a number of changes to the Oscars, including introduction of a new category.

From next year, there will be an award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. This is first time a new Oscar category has been introduced since Best Animated Film in 2001. Details on eligibility are yet to be announced, said a report published in online edition of The Guardian.

In a letter sent to its members, the Academy also announced that the telecast will now be kept to under three hours, which means that some of the 24 categories will be announced during commercial breaks and then edited into the ceremony later on.

This year's ceremony, which saw "The Shape of Water" take the top award, ran to just under four hours.

"We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide," the letter read.

The moves are seen as new ways for the Oscars to appeal to a wider audience. This year's ceremony saw the lowest US viewership in history and the contending films were mainly lower budgeted fare with solid box office.

In 2009, the Best Picture race was opened up from five to a possible 10 nominees, seen as a way of bringing in bigger blockbusters. Since then, "Avatar", "Inception", "The Martian", "Gravity" and "Toy Story 3" have all received nominations.

The most recent induction of new Academy members was also seen as a way of broadening the institution with its most diverse set to date, including Amy Schumer, Daniel Kaluuya and Tiffany Haddish.

The 91st Academy Awards will be held on February 24, 2019.