The Academy Awards have experienced slumping ratings, in part because members ignore mass-market films in favor of art-house nominees. Will the group finally embrace Netflix as a member of the Hollywood club? Some hard-liners say no way, no how; others point out that Netflix plans to make 50 original movies a year.
Most of all, Mr. Bailey will be expected to serve as a voice on the topics of race and gender — two things few people in Hollywood want to discuss in the open, largely because the entertainment industry has such a long history of exclusion.
In wake of the #OscarsSoWhite storms, Ms. Boone Isaacs helped mount an effort to double female and minority membership in the organization by 2020. But even after two years of the initiative, the academy remains 72 percent male and 87 percent white.
Ms. Hudson and Ms. Boone Isaacs often clashed, with Ms. Boone Isaacs seen as taking a more conservative approach to academy affairs. Whether Mr. Bailey will have a better working relationship with Ms. Hudson is unknown. He has been on the academy’s board for 14 years, recently serving as a vice president. He has never been nominated for an Oscar.
His election represents a victory for the academy’s less-visible contingent of “below the line” artists — those who are not actors, writers, directors or producers — many of whom have felt overlooked in Hollywood.
Under the academy’s sometimes stuffy rituals, board members are not allowed to openly seek the job of president. But whisper campaigns are rampant, and most Hollywood insiders had expected the actress Laura Dern to be named president. Other contenders included the documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy and David Rubin, a longtime casting director.
Mr. Bailey, who received the American Society of Cinematographers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, will help lead the academy with the assistance of Lois Burwell, an Oscar-winning makeup artist who was elected first vice president. Serving as vice presidents will be Kathleen Kennedy, the Lucasfilm chief; Michael Tronick, a music and film editor; and Nancy Utley, president of Fox Searchlight.