Winner of the Best Actor award Colin Firth poses with his trophy at the Governors Ball following the 83rd Annual Academy Awards on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (VALERIE MACON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

In 2009, the Academy expanded the category to 10 nominees, aiming to generate interest and more viewers.

Retiring Academy executive director Bruce Davis claims that the change to the category is necessary: “In studying the data, what stood out was that Academy members had regularly shown a strong admiration for more than five movies,” said Davis. “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.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers determined that if this new percentage system had been in place from 2001 to 2008, years would have yielded as few as five or six nominees.

The Academy believes that the new merit-based system will add intrigue to the Oscars. Films will not know how many slots they are vying for until the initial votes are tabulated and nominees are announced.