AceShowbiz - Bosses at Marvel Studios are reportedly launching a campaign aimed at securing Black Panther the Best Picture Oscar.
Ryan Coogler's Africa-set superhero movie earned rave reviews on its release in February and made a mammoth $700 million (£540 million) at the global box office.
Bosses a the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will introduce a Popular Film category next year to recognise blockbuster movies - but the Los Angeles Times reports that Marvel executives have their eye on the more prestigious prize.
According to the newspaper, the studio has hired veteran awards season strategist Cynthia Schwartz to conduct a campaign that will highlight the film's "creative accomplishments and the global impact it made".
The movie, which stars Chadwick Boseman as prince and superhero T'Challa / Black Panther who hails from an isolated but technologically advanced African kingdom, and Michael B. Jordan as villain Erik Killmonger, is the first comic book blockbuster to feature an all black cast.
One unnamed Oscar consultant said the film's critical and commercial success and status as a cultural milestone means that Academy chiefs are hoping it does earn a Best Picture nod, as it will be embarrassing if it only lands a popular film nomination.
"Right now, I think (Academy chief executive) Dawn Hudson would crawl in a hole if Black Panther gets snubbed for best picture and winds up landing in the popular film category," the Hollywood insider said. "The funny thing is that Dawn would be way more disappointed than anyone at Marvel."
Many of its stars have spoken of their desire for Oscars recognition, including British actor Andy Serkis, who told WENN he would like to see Ryan earn a Best Director nod.
"I think it absolutely should (win awards)," he gushed. "Because it is brilliantly directed by Ryan Coogler, he has great vision. It's very honest filmmaking. It comes from the heart and he has wanted to tell this story for a long time."
Voting for Oscar nominations opens on January 7, 2019 and closes seven days later. The full list of nominees will be announced on January 22.