The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, or the Oscars, will be allowing movies released on streaming platforms and through digital release to qualify for next year’s Academy Awards. The change is in response to movies almost unable to be screened in theatres due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, not every digital movie will be eligible for a Best Picture nomination. Their board of governors have decided that a movie which winds up on a streaming service must have a previously planned theatrical release.
“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theatre. Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering. Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules,” said Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.
The list of requirements for a movie to qualify for the 2021 Oscars would include the movie running for seven days theatrically in a commercial theatre in Los Angeles County, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily.
While the confirmed cases in the U.S. reaches the world’s highest (1.06 million), with 126,000 recovered and 61,504 deaths, the country looks like it is in no shape to re-open their cinemas. Still, movie theatre operators across America aim to open their doors during the summer, and many drive-in theatres are currently open as the alternative to a regular theatre. Universal’s ‘Trolls World Tour’ planned to have cinema screenings of the movie despite AMC Theatres banning Universal for still trying to screen movies during a pandemic.
At the recent Oscars, some of its biggest award contenders, including “The Irishman”, “Marriage Story”, and “The Two Popes” were released by Netflix. Even though streaming platforms have been garnering more attention at the Oscars, they still had to have screenings in theatres for a period of time, running up to 21 days total in order to qualify.
Although it looks like these new rules would help nominate more streaming and digital movies, the rules are more likely in place to allow studios to release their films on streaming as they figure out ways to salvage their 2020 slate of films without sacrificing a shot at an Oscar. Movies that were meant to have theatrical releases like “The Lovebirds“ have already been sold to Netflix as the streamer looks for more content to keep subscribers happy.