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92nd Annual Academy Awards - Backstage

Streaming Films Will Be Eligible for the Oscars 2021 Ceremony

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has voted to allow films that did not have a theatrical run this year to be eligible for Oscars until further notice. The Academy is responding to the unprecedented shutdown of movie theaters due to the coronavirus pandemic in order to flatten the curve of the spread, with many huge film release dates moved out 2020 completely. Considering the reality of the current state of the film industry, thinking about the 2021 Academy Awards ceremony required imagining a very bizarre scenario in which, if the old rules applied, there would be a fraction of the usual number of films eligible to compete. Thankfully, and well in advance, the Academy has changed course.

The streaming powerhouse Netflix, along with Amazon, have previously needed to make sure their marquee films had theatrical runs of at least seven days in order to qualify for a potential Oscar. There was a lot of conversation last year around Martin Scorsese’s epic The Irishman and how long it would play in theaters—the film even spurred Netflix to arrange a historic Broadway theater, the Belasco, to show the film.

The Academy changing the rules for this year’s broadcast was likely inevitable. Here’s how they worded their decision on the official Oscars website:

Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year 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 for the 93rd Academy Awards under these provisions: 1) The film must be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD release; 2) The film must meet all other eligibility requirements.

These rules will no longer apply once its safe enough for movie theaters to reopen. The films that are released after this date will need to comply with the Academy’s original theatrical rules. For now, however, while those us without essential jobs are at home and films are going directly to digital, the Academy is doing the right thing by adapting, like the rest of us, to these surreal times.

Featured image: HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 09: In this handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S. Oscars statuettes are on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Petit – Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

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