The Academy Awards Is Changing Its Rules As A Result Of Theater Closures

Oscars 2018 Jimmy Kimmel posing with an Oscar

With the current situation involving major theaters being closed due to current events, there’s no telling when the theatrical market will be open for business as usual yet again. Some chains have their own plans for when they’d like to have their doors open, but in the face of such uncertainty, folks have been wondering if awards bodies like the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will be altering their guidelines to include films without a traditional theatrical release window. Today we got that answer, and it’s definitely a yes... but with some caveats.

Much as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association did earlier today, the Academy has announced relaxed restrictions to what criteria films looking for awards consideration will need to meet. As per an item in Variety films such as Trolls: World Tour and The King of Staten Island that debut on VOD will actually be eligible for Academy Awards consideration. However, films debuting on digital platforms will have had to have planned a theatrical release, as well as have their product available on the Academy members only streaming platform within 60 days of their release.

The restrictions continue to stipulate that should theaters reopen before the end of the year, the standard 7-day screening window in New York and Los Angeles that’s typically required of a film will be back in play. But this won’t apply retroactively, so if the plans for Tenet’s theatrical release in July continue to stand firm, and theaters are allowed to operate at that time, it’ll still need to put in the usual effort a movie would need to meet in a typical awards season.

Since most movie theaters in the United States have been closed since around mid-March, the typical Academy Awards rules of consideration spawned comments about how the field of nominated films might see blockbusters like The Invisible Man, Birds of Prey, and Bad Boys For Life all jockeying for Best Picture honors of 2020. This new announcement might put a stop to such fantasy awards brackets, while at the same time also sparking up talks for the titles that are looking to play in this year’s awards derby.

It’ll be interesting to see how movie studios adjust their release models according to these new ground rules set for films releasing in 2020. Competition is certainly going to become fierce between blockbusters re-slotted into more awards friendly release slots and the competitors who’ve been planning their entire strategy around dates staked out at least a year in advance.

Meanwhile, the 93rd Annual Academy Awards are still on track to be held on February 27, 2021. Should anything change in that regard, we’ll report those updates as they break here at CinemaBlend.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.