The Academy will allow films that didn’t run in theaters to win Oscars

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has altered its Oscar eligibility rules in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the board of governors approved a temporary change that would allow streamed films to be eligible for its coveted annual award ceremony. 

“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater,” David Rubin, Academy president, and Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy, said in a joint 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,” they said.

In previous years, the Academy’s rules for eligibility require a film run for at least seven consecutive days at a commercial theater in Los Angeles County. The film must also be shown at least three times a day, with at least one screening between the hours of 6 pm and 10 pm.

This year, the Academy is allowing any movie that previously had a theatrical release, but has been made available on a commercial streaming or video on-demand service to qualify for its awards. 

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 on-demand release, as well as adhere to all other eligibility requirements set in the Academy’s rule book. 

Once theaters reopen, the rules exemption will no longer apply, the Academy said. Films will be expected to comply with the standard qualifying requirements. However, the Academy will expand the number of qualifying theaters beyond Los Angeles County to include venues in New York City, the Bay Area, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta.

Bong Joon Ho poses with two Oscars, one for Best Director and one for Best International Feature Film for “Parasite” in the photo room during the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, February 9, 2020.

Lucas Jackson | Reuters

Additionally, the Academy announced that the sound mixing and sound editing categories would be combined into one award called best achievement in sound. The change was initiated by the sound branch of the organization. This will reduce the total number of trophies to 25.

In the original score category, the board also voted that the score must comprise a minimum of 60% original music in order to be eligible. Music from sequels or franchise films must have a minimum of 80% new music, it determined.

The 93rd Oscars telecast will air Feb. 28, 2021 on ABC.

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