Speed Reads

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Academy reportedly eying Oscars rule change that would be great news for theaters but bad news for Netflix

Netflix's quest to win Best Picture may soon get more complicated. 

The Academy is weighing a significant rule change to the Oscars that would require films "play in theaters in 15 or 20 of the top 50 markets in the U.S. to be eligible" for Best Picture, according to Puck.

This would be much to the chagrin of Netflix, which has mostly shied away from major theatrical releases for its movies and given them a minor presence in theaters needed to qualify for the Oscars. The Academy's rules currently state that to be eligible for the Oscars, a movie simply has to be released theatrically for one week in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, or Atlanta. But the new rule would require studios and streamers put much more of an effort — not to mention more money — into playing its would-be Best Picture nominees around the country, rather than relegating them to one or two screens in New York and Los Angeles. 

This would, of course, affect all streaming services, but it's Netflix that has been particularly eager to win Best Picture in recent years while remaining resistant to traditional theatrical releases for its films, though last year's Glass Onion marked the company's first time working with the three major theater chains. The rule could also potentially negatively affect independent films unable to afford a larger theatrical presence. Academy CEO Bill Kramer believes he has the votes to get the rule or something like it passed, though a "Netflix-led coalition could kill" it, Puck reports. 

Still, Puck's Matthew Belloni raises the question of whether Netflix could react to this potential change by pulling back on its awards efforts. Despite running some expensive campaigns, the streamer has repeatedly come up short of taking the Best Picture Oscar since 2019 with contenders like RomaThe Irishman, and last year's All Quiet on the Western Front all failing to cross the finish line. In 2022, thanks to CODA, Apple TV+ beat Netflix to become the first streaming service to win Best Picture.