HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — Last year’s Oscars telecast hit an all-time low in ratings with just 26.5 million viewers, a drop of 20 percent from the previous year.

Wednesday’s announcement that the Academy was changing things up was no surprise. How they are changing things up caught many off guard.

While there are lots of changes, there aren’t a lot of details yet.

The biggest change? A brand new category — achievement in popular film, to make sure the box office’s biggest money makers have a chance to walk away with Oscar gold.

On the red carpet for Spike Lee’s new film — “Black Klansman”  — feelings were mixed about the new Oscar category.

“Okay, so does that mean if it was two years ago, ‘Moonlight’ would have gotten best and ‘La La Land’ would’ve gotten most popular?,” said actress Ashlie Atkinson.

“In the past,” says actor/director Aisha Tyler, “there have been these massive movies and incredible successes and they haven’t either gotten a best picture nomination or haven’t gotten the recognition people thought they deserved, and so I think there is something there that they’re trying to pull in younger viewers.”

Others think it will be nice to recognize films that might do great box office but not exactly huge critical favorites.

“If I were to vote for most popular movie last year I’d have voted for ‘Girls Trip.’ I might not have picked it for best picture but definitely would have voted it most popular,” said actress Damaria Lewis.

The telecast will also be shortened to three hours, meaning some categories won’t be televised.

“One of the great things growing up watching the Oscars you didn’t know what a cinematographer was or an editor was as a kid and you saw those people win and it made it real for you and you hate to see that go away,” said writer Kevin Wilmott.

The night’s biggest stars, Spike Lee and Dave Chapelle, say they want to know more about it before weighing in.

“I’m sorry I don’t really follow awards season because I’m not that kind of talent,” says Chappelle.

Lee was also taken off-guard with the new changes.

“A journalist told me about this in the middle of an interview,” Lee says, “This came out of nowhere, for me, probably everybody else was on the Board of Governors. But I need to get more information and understand what the criteria is before I speak intelligent about it.”

 

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