There are many awards that come around every single year recognising the best of the best in the film industry, but the only one that most people truly care about are the Oscars. And who you could argue that with most of the awards being extremely biased, subjective and a little irrelevant given the canvassing for votes that goes on, it has still not lost its appeal to those in the business.
One of the biggest issues of the past few years though with the annual Academy Awards is their strict adherence to certain archaic rules requiring films to receive theatrical releases to be eligible for nomination. Something which a few years ago was never seen as a problem considering how pretty much all movies were given such a traditional release. Thanks to the likes of Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services who are competing for blockbuster attention with bigger Hollywood studios, we are now seeing many incredible films worthy of challenging traditional giants getting released straight to streaming services. To keep them eligible for award nomination, these streaming services would normally release the films in a handful of select cinema before releasing globally through their services.
Thanks to COVID-19 though, these streaming companies won’t need to worry about such silly tactics as the academy has announced that the requirement of a theatrical release is no longer a nomination rule, provided they are still available on demand to a secure academy screening and meet all other eligibility requirements:
Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and speciality categories for the 93rd Academy Awards under these provisions:
The film must be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD release;
The film must meet all other eligibility requirements.
This is a decision that could have a big impact on the theatre industry in general. Even though the rule change is just for the awards next year; I would not be surprised if movie studios start to push for something like this in the long-term. While cinemas remain important to many big-budget blockbuster films, many of the artier films that tend to attract awards appeal tend to not be massive blockbusters and having streaming services pay to get them out on their networks not only gives them a more secure return on investment, it also gets more people seeing them which in turn creates positive word of mouth and builds positive hype at these awards shows.
I personally hope that the Academy decides to keep these rules. Not that I want to see theatres go out of business, but because I definitely enjoy going to cinemas to watch movies. I just have a preference for your more typical blockbuster move here and prefer to watch thought-provoking dramas at home. Though with Universal finding massive success with their release of Trolls Word Tour to on-demand services, I suspect we could see many of the bigger films forgoing traditional releases as well if they can still make that kind of money.
Last Updated: April 29, 2020