DGA Awards reinstates pre-pandemic theatrical eligibility requirements for 2022 in rules twist

While the Academy Awards kept its pandemic eligibility rules consistent for the 2021 and 2022 ceremonies, not all awards shows will follow suit. On Tuesday, the Directors Guild of America announced that the 2022 DGA Awards will reinstate pre-pandemic requirements rules for movies released after June 15. That means all remaining 2021 awards contenders must have a seven-day theatrical run before hitting streaming platforms, making it likely Warner Bros. movies such as “Dune” from director Denis Villeneuve and “Cry Macho” from director Clint Eastwood will be ineligible for the 2022 DGA Awards.

In addition to the rules clarification, the DGA Awards also announced its 2022 ceremony will take place on March 12. 

“After over a year of darkness, theater marquees lighting up across our nation have been a welcome sight for our healing communities,” DGA president Thomas Schlamme said in a statement to Deadline. “We celebrate the return of the important role that theatrical cinema plays in bringing together audiences as they collectively experience films as the filmmakers intended them to be viewed.”

Last year, WarnerMedia announced its entire 2021 slate of movies would debut simultaneously in theaters and via the streaming platform HBO Max. In the wake of the news, Villeneuve blasted the decision.

“I learned in the news that Warner Bros. has decided to release ‘Dune’ on HBO Max at the same time as our theatrical release, using prominent images from our movie to promote their streaming service. With this decision AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history,” Villeneuve said in a statement to Variety. “There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here. It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion. Therefore, even though ‘Dune’ is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street. With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention.” (AT&T has since announced plans to sell off WarnerMedia to Discovery.)

He added, “‘Dune’ is by far the best movie I’ve ever made. My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big-screen experience. Our movie’s image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theaters.”

Still, despite his pleas — and while “Dune” will have a corresponding theatrical bow, plus hit the festival circuit this fall at Venice and Toronto — the blockbuster will not provide Villeneuve with the opportunity to earn his second DGA Award nomination (after 2016’s “Arrival”) because of the release strategy.

That stings because the DGA Awards are an often extremely reliable predictor for Oscar glory. Only three times in 40 years has the DGA Award winner not been nominated for an Academy Award in the category. In the past 32 years, 22 directors anointed by the DGA Awards could also lay claim to having helmed the Best Picture winner, including this year’s winner Chloe Zhao

Thus far, Warner Bros. has remained steadfast in its current release structure.

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