For the First Time, Academy Awards Will Allow Streamed Films to Participate in 2021

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By Vanessa Obioha

Due to the global health crisis caused by Covid-19 that has forced theatres across the globe to shut down, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced in a press statement that it will allow movies that were unable to have a theatrical run but streamed on commercial platforms or video-on-demand service to participate in the award next year.

“The Academy remains unwavering in its support of theaters and the theatrical experience. I, like all of you, cannot wait to return to that experience. Above all else, we want to allow talented filmmakers and great films to continue to be recognized, especially during this global health crisis, and not be penalized for circumstances beyond anyone’s control,” said the Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.

Usually, the Academy rules require that a film

be shown in a commercial motion picture theater 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. But with the closure of L.A. movie theatres, the Academy’s Board of Governors approved a temporary change to accommodate films that were affected by the pandemic to qualify for Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories.

However, it warned that the rule only applies to its 93rd edition.

“On a date to be determined by the Academy, and when theaters reopen in accordance with federal, state and local specified guidelines and criteria, this rules exemption will no longer apply. All films released thereafter will be expected to comply with the standard Academy theatrical qualifying requirements.”

The film however 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 and must meet all other eligibility requirements.

The Academy also announced other changes including the Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories. The two are now merged into one category: Best Achievement in Sound. Also, the Academy will invite all eligible members to participate in the preliminary round of voting in the Best International Feature Film category.

The 93rd Oscars telecast is scheduled to air Sunday, February 28, 2021, on ABC.