With coronavirus lockdowns forcing cinema closures, the 2021 Oscars will for the first and possibly last time allow movies that debuted on a streaming platform.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced the historic shift on Wednesday Australian time, along with other changes to the awards.
The next edition of the Oscars will merge the two sound award categories into one.
The Academy has also banned DVD screeners, which are mailed out to voters by studios keen to get voter eyeballs on their films, for the 2022 awards and beyond as part of an effort to become more carbon friendly.
The spread of COVID-19 has forced the closure of cinemas around the world, as well as the cancellation of major film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival and South by Southwest.
Under the previous Oscar rules, a movie required a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles county commercial cinema to be considered for nomination.
Here's what you need to know about the #Oscars:
– For this awards year only, streamed films will be eligible for Best Picture
– Going forward, the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing awards will be combined into one category: Best Sound
For more details: https://t.co/LjBJJHExCN
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) April 28, 2020
For the upcoming awards, scheduled for February 2021, movies that were planned for theatrical release but were subsequently made available on streaming platforms instead can qualify for major awards like best picture.
“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theatre,” AMPAS president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement.
“Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules,” they said.
AMPAS said the exemption would no longer apply once cinemas reopened.
Up till now, the Academy has steadfastly refused to bend its rules in the face of intense lobbying from online streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon.
To ensure its movies are considered for major Oscars, Netflix has previously released its movies in cinemas and on its streaming platform at the same time.
Netflix productions garnered the most Oscar nominations of any studio earlier this year, vying for 24 awards thanks to movies such as Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Fernando Meirelles’s The Two Popes and Marriage Story starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.