Oscars Will Henceforth Consider Films That is Not Played in Theaters as Part of New Academy Rules

by Duke Magazine
Etienne Laurent/ EPA-EFE/ Shutterstock

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has re-adjusted its Oscar eligibility rules at the break of the coronavirus outbreak.

During a meeting on Tuesday, the board of governors approved a temporary hold on the prerequisite that a film needs to meet at a seven-day theatrical run in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County to qualify for the Oscars.

In view of this, films will be allowed to be released digitally without playing in theaters. However, that does not mean any movie premiering on a streaming service is eligible for Oscar gold. To be worthy of consideration, the streamed film must have already had a well-layout theatrical release. The film must also be made available on the Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD release.

“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater,” Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering. Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules. The Academy supports our members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty. We recognize the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever.”

Once movie theaters are allowed to re-open, the seven-day window will once again be needed for eligibility. When the theaters re-open, the Academy will also expand the number of qualifying theaters beyond Los Angeles County to include more venues in places like New York City, the Bay Area, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta.

The Academy also announced that it will cancel an Oscar category. The sound mixing and sound editing categories will be merged into a single award, reducing the total number of categories presented on the show to 23. This change was initiated by the sound branch.

Also, for the first time since its inception, all Academy members will be invited to participate in the preliminary round of voting for international feature film. Members will also have to meet a  certain minimum viewing requirement to be allowed to vote.

In the original score category, the board voted that a score must have a minimum of 60% original music. Furthermore, for sequels and franchise films, a score must have a minimum of 80% new music.

In keeping up with the Academy’s ongoing efforts to be more sustainable, the board also voted to remove DVD screeners. In October, the Academy expanded its Streaming Room platform to include best picture hopefuls following its inclusion of documentaries, animated films and shorts. Distributors are charged $12,500 per movie to screen on the platform.

The 93rd Oscars is slated to telecast on air on February 28, 2021 on ABC.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is also making huge adjustments to its film eligibility rules for the 2021 Golden, including giving the studios a go-ahead to provide screening links for voting members instead of having films played at third-party facilities.

 The HFPA will henceforth be considering titles that had a theatrical release planned to begin in Los Angeles starting March 15, with no cut-off date, instead of only taking cognizance of movies released in theaters, pay-per-view digital delivery, or pay-per-view cable delivery. 

The SAG Awards eligibility rules are therefore expected to be made known to the public by July.

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