The organisers of the Oscars, the U.S.highest awards in the movie industry said on Tuesday that films released only on streaming platforms or video on demand would be eligible for awards next year.
The rule change follows the shutdown of movie theatres due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The temporary change was announced in a statement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
It will apply only for next year’s Oscars and will lapse when movie theatres reopen across the nation.
Previously, a movie had to be screened in a movie theatre in Los Angeles for at least seven days in order to be eligible for Oscar consideration.
“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theatre.
“Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering.
“Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules,” President David Rubin and Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said.
Streaming platforms like Netflix have upended Hollywood, drawing A-list stars such as Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese and producing award-winning content like 2019 best foreign language winner “Roma” that have rivaled what traditional movie studios can offer.
Movie theatres across the United States shut their doors in mid-March, forcing the postponement of major film releases.
The three main movie theatre chains – AMC, Regal and Cinemark – have said they do not expect to reopen until late June or July.
Some films, including Universal Pictures animated “Trolls World Tour,” have been released directly to streaming platforms or video on demand.
Universal will do the same with the upcoming Judd Apatow comedy “The King of Staten Island,” while Walt Disney has announced it will release children’s fantasy film “Artemis Fowl” on its Disney+ streaming platform rather than wait for theatres to reopen. Others are expected to follow.
The Oscars are still scheduled to take place in Hollywood on Feb. 28, 2021.
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