and the Oscar goes to...
Movies that premiere on a couch near you can once again vie for Oscars next year.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Thursday that for the 2022 Oscars, it will keep in place a rule allowing movies that don't get a theatrical release and instead debut on streaming or on demand to be eligible for awards, The New York Times reports.
The Academy instituted this rule change last year at a time when theaters were shut down around the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the organization said Thursday this year is "still impacted by the pandemic." Prior to the 2021 Oscars, the Academy required movies to at least receive a limited theatrical release in Los Angeles to be eligible, even if they didn't open widely in major multiplexes.
The Oscars' rules, however, stipulate that the movies have to have been "intended for theatrical release," even if they're "initially made available through" streaming or video on demand. That was also the case for the 2021 Oscars, and this would, for example, prevent television films from being up for Best Picture, the Times notes. Movies also have to meet certain other requirements, including being made available on the Academy's screening site for members.
The Academy also announced Thursday that next year's Oscars will be pushed back a month, moving from the end of February to March 27, 2022. But while the 2021 Oscars extended the window of eligibility due to the pandemic, allowing films to compete that came out in early 2021, the 2022 Oscars will return to requiring movies be released within the actual calendar year as usual.
Though streaming films will once again be eligible in 2022, as theaters re-open, expect a number of splashy theatrical releases like Steven Spielberg's West Side Story to be in the upcoming awards conversation — something the Academy can only hope will prevent another ratings catastrophe.