Since the Academy Awards were first aired on television in 1953, ads for upcoming movies have been specifically barred, so as not to give the impression that the movie studios are trying to influence the outcome of the awards.

Now Oscar seems to be dropping all pretense that studios don't spend millions and millions of dollars to try to win awards, and will allow movie trailers to be shown during the awards show broadcast next February. Academy president Sid Ganis told Variety that the movies have to open in the last week of April at the earliest, meaning no movies up for awards will be advertised.

There are a bunch of other rules as well, which limit the ads to one per studio, and only one per commercial break. Sequels or prequels to movies nominated are also prohibited, so even if a third Batman movie is in the works by then, we won't be hearing about it during the Oscars (we'll just hear about it everywhere else, of course).

The most interesting rule states that the ads cannot have aired anywhere else previously, which limits them to the kind of "event" debut ads that usually come during the Superbowl. As Variety suggests, any number of huge summer movies could get big ads pushes during the Oscars, including Terminator: Salvation, Star Trek or the new Transformers. If Pixar is smart, they'll get in an ad for Up; while it's not technically a sequel to Wall-E, the Pixar brand is so uniform that Wall-E's (inevitable) win for Best Animated Feature will make Up look even better by comparison. Same for whatever Marvel has cooking for the near future, given that Iron Man will almost certainly be up for technical awards.

It's ludicrous to assume in this day and age that studios don't influence the Oscars with their spending power, so allowing movie ads during the ceremony is a logical next step. Plus, those kinds of premiere trailers will draw in eyeballs that wouldn't bother otherwise-- particularly eyeballs that will likely be watching to see how many awards The Dark Knight can win. With Oscars TV ratings in a freefall the last few years, and a genuine populist hit poised to be a nominee, this a perfect year for this change.

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