Tooning up for Oscar gold

That big green ogre Shrek might find himself far from alone next year should he have to trudge down the media-besieged red carpet of Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors has approved final rules that include the opening of a new category for a best animated feature film award.

The approval comes nine months after the initial announcement of the category, which had been debated for years by the AMPAS.

The new category will only be presented when eight or more eligible films are released during a given year, said John Pavlik, the AMPAS’ director of communications.

The board will meet in December to discuss if and which animated films will be nominated for Academy Awards.

“This will be the first new award since 1981,” Pavlik said. “That year, we included awards for best makeup and the new honorary Gordon E. Sawyer award, which awards the career of technology.”

The reason why the AMPAS didn’t have this category in previous years is because there weren’t enough animated feature films being made to open a category, Pavlik said.

“In the past, most animated films were made by Disney,” Pavlik said. “Disney made one or two films a year, and the board didn’t want to nominate an automatic award.”

Disney is credited as the “father” of all animated feature films, with classics such as Fantasia, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Lion King becoming hits worldwide.

“In the recent years, studios have begun doing more animated features so the numbers have now increased,” Pavlik said. “Now there is a real competition among the studios where we can find up to 10 feature-length features per year.”

Possible Oscar contenders could include Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Sony Pictures’ Final Fantasy and DreamWorks’ Shrek.

For an animated feature to be considered for Oscar nomination, the film will have to run for at least 70 minutes and the animation figures should be on screen for no less than 75 percent of the picture’s running time, according to the AMPAS’ Web site.

“The board will look at this year’s feature films and discuss which ones will be eligible to run this year,” Pavlik said.

Even though the studios haven’t specifically showed appreciation towards this new category, Pavlik said, they would more than likely be “delighted” that the AMPAS is acknowledging the animation genre.