The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will allow only films streamed online for the forthcoming Oscars in the wake of the industry-wide shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The organisers of the annual awards made the announcement on Tuesday, adding that the COVID-19 outbreak had forced the Academy to make the “temporary exception” due to the shutdown of theatres.
Earlier, the Academy required that a film be shown in a commercial motion picture theatre in Los Angeles County for a theatrical qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily.
“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 in a statement.
For the 93rd awards ceremony only, the films that had a planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or video on-demand (VOD) service may qualify in the best picture, general entry and specialty categories.
The film must be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of its streaming or VOD release. When theatre’s reopen as per the government guidelines and on a date to be set by the Academy, this rules exemption will no longer apply. “All films released thereafter will be expected to comply with the standard Academy theatrical qualifying requirements,” according to the press release.
To ease the theatrical exhibition requirements when theatres reopen, the organisers will also expand the number of qualifying theatres beyond Los Angeles County, including venues like New York City, Bay Area, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta.
The Board of Governors also announced that they will be merging the two sound categories – mixing and editing – into one award. The 93rd Oscars telecast will air February 28, 2021 on ABC.