For the first time in the history of the Oscars, movies that made a streaming debut will be allowed to qualify for awards, including Best Picture. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has amended its rules, for next year's Academy Awards only, to allow for streaming movies to compete. This comes at a time when theaters all across the U.S. are closed for an indefinite time, making it incredibly difficult for movies to qualify under the old rules.

The Academy's board of governors approved the rule change, but emphasized it is a temporary measure. Once theaters are allowed to reopen, the rules of exemption that have been established temporarily will no longer apply. Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson had this to say about it in a statement.

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"The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater. Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering. Nonetheless, the historically tragic [situation] necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules. The Academy supports our members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty. We recognize the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever."

Historically, movies that hoped to qualify for the Oscars would need to, at minimum, have a week-long qualifying run at a theater in Los Angeles County. This is why Netflix will sometimes release prestige titles in a few theaters, such as The Irishman or Roma. But since studios can't release movies in theaters right now, that has complicated matters. So, titles that are debuting on streaming instead, at least for now, will still be able to qualify. For example, Trolls World Tour, which debuted on premium VOD earlier this month could, in theory, qualify for Best Picture, or any other awards.

This is a decision that feels necessary, given the situation, but it could be opening the floodgates for the future. Questions have been raised in recent years along with the rise of streaming in regards to what should or shouldn't be considered for the Academy Awards. While it was stressed that this is temporary, it will surely open up a larger conversation for future editions of the awards ceremony. Especially if a movie that debuted on streaming goes on to win some Oscars next year.

In addition to the streaming change, the Academy also merged the two sound categories, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, into one category that will honor the "best achievement in sound." Additionally, in the Original Score category, a score must contain, at minimum, 60 percent original music to qualify. For sequels and franchises, a score must have a minimum of 80 percent new music. As it stands, The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony is set to take place on February 28, 2021. We'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops. This news comes to us via official oscars.org website.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott