Cinderella ending for animation as Academy Awards create first new Oscar in two decades

Cinderella, get your ballgown on, and ditch that pumpkin for a stretch limo. Cartoon films are getting an Academy Award of their own, the first new Oscar category in two decades.

Cinderella, get your ballgown on, and ditch that pumpkin for a stretch limo. Cartoon films are getting an Academy Award of their own, the first new Oscar category in two decades.

Currently, animated features compete against live-action movies in the best-picture category. The only feature-length cartoon ever nominated for best picture, Beauty and the Beast in 1992, did not win.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board has voted to create a separate category for animated features, which will be added to the annual awards on a case-by-case basis. Animated feature Oscars could be handed out as early as March 2002, the academy said.

The decision marks an end to a long-running battle by animators to have their films submitted to a separate Oscar category. Now films submitted in the animated feature category may also qualify for nominations in other areas, including best picture.

The award will not differentiate between traditional, hand-drawn animation such as Disney's The Lion King, computer animation, such as Toy Story 2, and stop-motion and claymation works, like Chicken Run. But to be eligible, the "primarily animated" film must be at least 70 minutes long.

The academy's board of governors has stipulated that the new Oscar will become a permanent part of the Academy Awards but may not necessarily be presented annually. They will only take place if eight or more eligible films are released in a calendar year.

If eight to 15 films are released, then the academy will nominate up to three films to compete for the Oscar. If 16 or more are released, then the group will expand the field to as many as five nominees.

A further meeting is expected to determine what happens to partially animated films, such as Stuart Little.

"The other thing that will be tricky is when they meet to define an 'animated feature'," said a spokesman for the academy, John Pavlik. "Is it intended to be live action mixed with animation, like Roger Rabbit, or is it intended to fake you into believing in that reality, such as Stuart Little or the Jar Jar Binks character [from Star Wars Episode 1: the Phantom Menace]?"

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