For the last two years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has used a 10-movie Best Picture, preference voting system to pick the “best of the best.”

But now, and after a vote by the Board Of Governors of AMPAS of six of 14 votes total (and that’s all the voting info that was in the press release), to add what they call a “twist” – but what this blogger thinks will cause damage to the overall improved ratings for the event given the increasing problem of the last ten years – AMPAS has a new system.

Now, rather than an assured ten movies being nominated for Best Picture, the number could vary between five movies and ten movies – that’s a huge error, but what’s done is done.

Here’s Academy President Tom Sherak to explain the idea behind the changes: “With the help of PricewaterhouseCoopers, we’ve been looking not just at what happened over the past two years, but at what would have happened if we had been selecting 10 nominees for the past 10 years.”

Sherak noted that it was retiring Academy executive director Bruce Davis who recommended the change first to Sherak and incoming CEO Dawn Hudson and then to the Board of Governors, according to AMPAS.

AMPAS Spokesperson Leslie Unger said The Academy went back over the last 10 years of “Best Picture” voting and determined that “the average percentage of first place votes received by the top vote-getting movie was 20.5. After much analysis by Academy officials, it was determined that 5 percent of first place votes should be the minimum in order to receive a nomination, resulting in a slate of anywhere from five to 10 movies.”

Bruce Davis said “In studying the data, what stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies. A Best Picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit. If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to round out the number.”

Unger explains that if the system had been in place over the last 10 years, “there would have been years that yielded 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 nominees.” She explains that once the number of nominations is determined, the preference voting system will still be used to pick the Best Picture winner.

AMPAS Must Focus On TV Ratings

That decision is an enormous mistake because it effectively removes the chance that a popular movie could reach the level of “Best Picture” and help drive ratings for the Oscar telecast. This move will effectively shrink ratings potential and revenue for Oscar itself for those years where the number is less than ten, and a box-office hit fails to make the Best Picture list.

That scenario, coupled with AMPAS still-poor social media program (where The Academy has less than the vast number of Twitter followers it needs to march an effective buzz campaign) will guarantee poor ratings problems for years to come.

Sad to say.

Other AMPAS Changes.

This corner has no strong view of the other changes noted in the press release, so here’s what AMPAS via Unger is reporting:

Other rules changes approved by the Board include:

In the animated feature film category, the need for the Board to vote to “activate” the category each year was eliminated, though a minimum number of eligible releases – eight – is still required for a competitive category. Additionally, the short films and feature animation branch recommended, and the Board approved, refinements to the number of possible nominees in the Animated Feature category. In any year in which eight to 12 animated features are released, either two or three of them may be nominated. When 13 to 15 films are released, a maximum of four may be nominated, and when 16 or more animated features are released, a maximum of five may be nominated.

In the visual effects category, the “bakeoff” at which the nominees are determined will expand from seven to 10 contenders. The increase in the number of participants is related to a change made last year in which the number of films nominated in the visual effects category was increased from three to five. (Me: logical move.)

Previously, the Board approved changes to the documentary feature and documentary short category rules that now put those categories’ eligibility periods in line with the calendar year and thus with most other awards categories. The change means that for the 84th Awards cycle only, the eligibility period is more than 12 months; it is from September 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011.

Other modifications of the 84th Academy Awards rules include normal date changes and minor “housekeeping” changes.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors for approval.

The 84th Annual Academy Awards Nominations Presentation will be held Tuesday, January 24th at 5:30 AM in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The 84th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network.

And yes, I love posting that information.

A Poll

This change is a big deal, and so much so that I feel a poll is in order. Stay tuned.

By Zennie Abraham

Zennie Abraham | Zennie Abraham or "Zennie62" is the founder of Zennie62Media which consists of and a multimedia blog news aggregator and video network, and 78-blog network, with social media and content development services and consulting. Zennie is a pioneer video blogger, YouTube Partner, social media practitioner, game developer, and pundit. Note: news aggregator content does not reflect the personal views of Mr. Abraham.