Fans have been hoping for years that streamed movies might one day gain Oscar recognition. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, that day has finally come. On Wednesday, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that next year, streamed films would be eligible for awards in 2021 — but not without a few strings attached.
As quoted by Entertainment Tonight, the Academy said in a statement that it has agreed to allow streaming movies to be nominated. This, however, “will be for one year and one year only.”
“Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories for the 93rd Academy Awards.”
Additionally, there will be tight restrictions as to which entries will be permitted. Not every movie on a streaming platform will be considered eligible. For eligibility, the new rule states that any 2020 film that ends up on such a platform will need to have been originally planned for a theatrical release. Under normal circumstances, entries are always required to have a theater run lasting a minimum of seven days and must have a run at a commercial theater in Los Angeles County.
Due to the coronavirus, theaters have been shut down, and because of this, many films have been transferred from this medium to streaming platforms — or have bypassed the theaters altogether — at unparalleled speed. Studios still want movie lovers to have a chance to enjoy films that they would have otherwise gone out to see.
Because of the pandemic, the Academy did not want to penalize any film that previously had a planned release schedule and no longer met the required standard. Canceling next year’s awards ceremony, as reported, still seemed too premature.
Permitting streamed movies will only be a temporary solution to an unprecedented situation. The Academy has made it clear that they wish to preserve the sanctity of the movie theater going forward. Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson enforced this idea in Tuesday’s press statement, as reported by The Verge.
“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’s announcement comes roughly a month after the Golden Globes and the Emmy announced amendments to their own rules, according to CNN.