There's a new category in France's Cesar Awards and it's an idea Oscar should kick around.


What the French Academy just did is create an award honoring the French film that sold the year's most tickets. In France, those are usually broad appeal comedies that moviegoers love.


It's not a competitive Cesar category, but turning it into one would be the best way for our Academy to adapt it for the Oscars. Because most films that get into Oscar's best picture race are indie dramas with limited boxoffice success, a new category for best films grossing $150M or more could be a big new drawing card for viewers nationwide.


Viewers who haven't seen the competing movies don't care who wins and they won't hang around for three hours-plus to find out. But if there was a category for blockbusters like "STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI" (pictured) or "WONDER WOMAN," viewers would have a rooting interest in the race and the show's ratings would reflect that.


It's a new category that would let Oscar keep its critically driven best picture race while also showcasing the big hits that bring audiences into theatres and will attract viewers to the Oscarcast.


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When the boxoffice suddenly turns from blah to big, it's a good reminder that movies are a product driven business.


Last weekend was a great example of what happens when a brand name franchise for an underserved audience hits the multiplexes. Adult women made Universal's "FIFTY SHADES FREED" (pictured – Dakota Johnson) must-see viewing and girls-night-out partying was a driving force.


"FREED" topped the chart with $38.8M, exceeding low-to-mid-30s expectations. Clearly, nobody cared about its 11% RT score. "Internationally the film earned $98.1M in 57 territories for a combined global total of $136.9M," per comScore's Paul Dergarabedian.


While it warmed winter's chilly boxoffice, "FREED" did nearly 17% less than "FIFTY SHADES DARKER's" $46.6M launch last Feb. 10.


comScore said last weekend's ticket sales of $138M were down 27% from $189.1M last year when "THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE" opened first to $53M.


2018 is down 1.8% from 2017 vs. off just 0.1% a week ago. That will turn around next weekend as Disney/Marvel's "BLACK PANTHER" opens at 3,800 theatres with a 98% Certified Fresh RT score. Hollywood handicappers are thinking $150M-ish.