Oscars Changes Eligibility Rules Due to COVID-19

For their consideration, films will no longer require a theatrical release.

The coronavirus has left Hollywood at a standstill, with film productions and theatrical releases remaining on lockdown amid this pandemic. In response to this ongoing crisis, the Oscars are implementing eligibility changes for the Academy Awards in 2021. 

During the next awards season, the Oscars will now consider films released via streaming services for potential nominations. Normally, the standard eligbility for the Academy Awards is that a film must play in theaters for at least one week in Los Angeles County in order to qualify as a candidate.  However, this latest development means that a film, whose debut occurred a streaming platform like Netflix, could win Best Picture next year. 

On Tuesday morning, the organization’s 54-member board of governors came together during a virtual Zoom meeting and voted on these several rule changes for 2021. Besides the consideration of films without a theatrical release, the Oscars announced permanent revisions as well to certain categories. This includes the combination of its two sound categories — Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Design — under one category entitled Best Sound. 

Although the 93rd Academy Awards is not scheduled until Feb. 28, 2021, the coronavirus has left the committee uncertain about what will happen to the film industry in the months to come. For now, these recent decisions could alleviate the strict requirements of the Oscars, as well as lessen COVID-19’s effects on Hollywood. 

“This has always been approached from a perspective of affirming the academy’s commitment to the primacy of theatrical exhibition and our belief that that’s the most satifying way to experience a motion picture, academy president David Rubin told The Times. “This is really about looking out for our community and our filmmakers and understanding the extraordinary circumstances in this period of time.”

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