and the winner is ... not playing in theaters
The coronavirus crisis just officially changed the Oscars — at least for a year.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday that for next year's show, movies that debut on streaming services or on demand but not in theaters can be eligible for an Oscar.
This decision comes as movie theaters are closed throughout the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the rule being altered is still quite significant. Movies from streamers like Netflix have previously been eligible if they received at least a limited theatrical release in Los Angeles, and this requirement has been maintained as some Oscar voters have expressed fears that streaming's growing dominance poses a threat to the traditional theatrical experience.
Under the new rules, the Academy said that movies that "had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available" on streaming or video on demand services can qualify for the Oscars as long as they meet other eligibility requirements and are made available to view on the Academy's streaming site within 60 days of release. The Academy, however, stressed that this is only for this year and that when theaters reopen, "on a date to be determined by the Academy," the exception won't apply anymore. At that point, Variety reports movies that premiered on streaming won't then also have to be released in theaters.
"The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater," Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said. "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 93rd Academy Awards, with its streaming movies and all, is set for February 2021.