The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has adjusted its eligibility for its annual award ceremony in response to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down movie theaters nationwide.
On April 28, 2020, the Academy’s Board of Governors approved several new rules and adjustments for the next Oscar season. The biggest standout garnering the most attention amongst the tweaks made is a temporary hold on the requirement that a film needs to have a seven-day theatrical run in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County plus movie screenings occurring at least three times daily remain eligible for Oscar consideration.
As cinemas across the globe remain closed because of the coronavirus, preventing any big-screen releases, this approval allows a film to skip the required theatrical release and remain qualified for an Oscar gold nomination.
“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater. 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,” said Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.”
However, this rule change is not expected to extend beyond the 93rd Academy Awards.
It also does not mean that any movie premiering on a streaming service will be eligible for there is a strict requisites, “only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories,” and under the following provisions, the film must also be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD (video-on-demand release), as well as adhere to all other eligibility requirements set by the Academy.
Regarding when theaters are re-opened, “On a date to be determined by the Academy, and when theaters reopen in accordance with federal, state and local specified guidelines and criteria, this rules exemption will no longer apply. All films released thereafter will be expected to comply with the standard Academy theatrical qualifying requirements.”
The Academy will also be expanding the number of qualifying theaters beyond Los Angeles County to include venues in New York City, the Bay Area; the Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia. To allows films to meet the theatrical release requirement more easily.
Now in regards to film festivals, if they were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic they still may provide films by following a few extra provisions and will also be expected to comply with all other rules and requirements stated by the Academy for the 93rd Academy Awards.
Additionally, the Academy also announced that the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing Award categories have been combined to emphasize team effort into one award for, Best Achievement in Sound.
Furthermore, with the ever-evolving landscape regarding the global pandemic caused by COVID19, all temporary exceptions for the upcoming coveted award ceremony are subject to change in accordance and based on national guidelines, state-mandated government orders and any updated information will be shared at a later time.
The 93rd Academy Awards is still scheduled to air on February 28, 2021, on ABC.