Hamilton is one of the most decorated Broadway musicals in history and recently made its debut in movie form on Disney+. Unfortunately, Lin-Manuel Miranda's stage show about founding father Alexander Hamilton will not be eligible to compete for Oscars at next year's Academy Awards. This, despite a rule amendment that expanded eligibility for movies that debuted on streaming, yet had originally planned a theatrical release.
The reasoning all comes down to a rule change that was implemented in 1997. Per the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, "Recorded stage productions are not eligible for consideration." Additionally, "essentially unfiltered records of performances" aren't eligible for Oscars. Hamilton, as released on Disney+, is a recorded performance of the Broadway show with the original cast that was edited into a movie. Because of that, it will have to sit out the year's biggest awards show, which is probably not what Disney was hoping for. Truthfully, it seemed like the studio was originally intending for a big awards season run.
Disney won the rights to Hamilton in a competitive bidding situation, ultimately shelling out $75 million, making it one of the richest acquisition deals in history. The studio had initially planned to release it in theaters in October 2021. For one, it was likely to be a box office monster, since it would allow the masses to see the hit show for a reasonable price. Two, that positioned it right in the heart of awards season contention. However, with theaters shut down this year, Disney opted to make a streaming play instead. But, the Academy amended rules this year to allow movies that went straight to streaming to compete for Oscars. Disney possibly hoped they could still compete.
The stage recording of Give 'em Hell, Harry was nominated for an Oscar in 1976, with James Whitmore scoring a Best Actor nod. However, the rules were amended in 1997. The rule change disqualified recorded stage performances. But adaptations of stage shows, such as 2012's Les Miserables, are still fair game.
While the Oscars are out of the question, Hamilton will still be eligible to compete for some prizes at the Emmys in the outstanding variety special category. That will put a limit on possible nominations for the performances in the production. Similarly, it will be able to compete in the outstanding music direction category, but not in original music and lyrics categories. Those fields are limited to music written in the current eligibility year.
Disney has little to cry over though. Hamilton resulted in a massive spike in Disney+ app downloads and has been met with widespread praise. Thomas Kail directed Hamilton, with the performance recorded at Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June 2016. Aside from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the cast also includes Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos and Phillipa Soo. This news was previously reported by Variety.