Oscars amend rules in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic: Streaming films qualify, but under what circumstances?

The coronavirus pandemic has forced movie theaters nationwide to close their doors, so what’s a motion picture academy to do when the Oscars’ rules usually require films to run for seven days at a commercial theater in LA County? The board of governors met on April 28 and announced new rules. It’s good news for streaming movies, but not all streaming movies.

The academy decided that for the 2021 Oscars they would allow films to compete that were first made available on a streaming or video-on-demand service if they had “a previously planned theatrical release.” So films that were always intended to be streaming-only won’t fall under this new eligibility umbrella. In addition, eligible films “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.”

Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in their statement, “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.”

Numerous theatrical releases have been delayed as the result of theater closures, and others have been made available online, including the animated sequel “Trolls World Tour,” which dropped on VOD on April 10 in lieu of delaying its opening date. What do you think of these new Oscars rules? Do you think they should be temporary as planned, or should regulations against streaming and VOD releases be relaxed indefinitely? Vote in our poll below.

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