The Oscars Made a Huge Rule Change Because of Coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic continues to reshape our world in big and small ways. To most, this latest change will seem inconsequential — but for those in the world of film, it could be enormously important.
For every previous year in the Academy’s 92-year history, a film needed to play in a movie theater in Los Angeles for at least one week in order to be considered eligible for Oscar consideration. Today, per The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted and determined that “this season, and until further notice” movies that only play on streaming will be eligible to be nominated for Academy Awards.
Here are the new rules, via THR:
Films that were scheduled for theatrical release, that meet the other eligibility requirements and that are made available for Academy members to view on the organization's members-only streaming service, Academy Screening Room, within 60 days of being made available on a publicly-available streamer or VOD service, will be in the running. (This covers any and all films that scrapped their theatrical release due to the coronavirus crisis in favor of another method of reaching consumers, such as Trolls World Tour.)
Supposedly, after the Oscars’ governors determine “that theatrical moviegoing is once again safe,” the original eligibility requirements of a one-week theatrical release will be re-instituted.
For at least one year, though, the traditional rules of the Oscars have been thrown out the window. It’s certainly a win for streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, and it could mean that the awards contenders of the fall that may have remained on the shelf if theaters didn’t reopen by then will get releases on streaming or VOD — because now they can do so and still be considered for Oscars. (At this same meeting, the Academy Board of Governors also voted to merge the two sound categories, Best Sound and Best Sound Editing, into a single award honoring both disciplines.)
We won’t know for months exactly how this streaming policy reshapes awards season — and a lot of its impact will be determined by how coronavirus continues to affect movie theaters. (It will also be determined by how strict the Academy is about the “scheduled for theatrical release part” of the new rule, since some awards contenders only get release dates after premieres at film festivals like Cannes that have already been canceled by coronavirus.) But whatever happens, it should make for a very interesting Oscar race, culminating at the the next Academy Awards on February 27, 2021.
Gallery — Every Best Picture Winner Through History: