Streamed films will be eligible for next year’s Oscars in response to the Covid-19 pandemic closing cinemas across the US, the film academy has said.
In a major departure from existing rules, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said for 2021 movies that do not receive a full cinema release will be able to compete at the Oscars.
That includes films that debut on streaming or video on demand services.
However, the body said at a “date to be determined” and when cinemas have reopened following the pandemic, the exemption will no longer apply and any films released after that point will have to comply with the Academy’s usual rules.
Current Academy rules state a film must be shown in a commercial cinema in Los Angeles for at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily.
To make it easier for films to meet the requirements, the Academy is expanding its qualifying cinemas beyond Los Angeles County to include the cities of New York, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area.
The awards and events committee will evaluate all matters of rules and eligibility, the Academy added.
Academy president David Rubin and chief executive Dawn Hudson said in a statement: “The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theatre.
“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 recognise the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever.”
Another major changes announced after a virtual meeting of the Academy’s board on Tuesday is the merging of sound mixing and sound editing into one category: best sound.
A string of other announcements were also made.
In the best original score category, a film must contain 60% original music. For sequels and franchise films, the score must be 80% original.
The Academy is also banning DVD screeners is a bid to be more sustainable. The body said that rule will be enforced from next year.
And in the international feature film category, previously known as best foreign language film, all eligible Academy members will be invited to vote in the preliminary round.
Members will have to meet a minimum viewing requirement to be allowed to vote.
The 93rd Academy Awards are scheduled to take place on Sunday February 28 2021.