Streaming-Only Films Will Now Be Considered For Oscar Nomination Amid Coronavirus


The coronavirus pandemic has forced the Academy Awards to allow films released only on streaming or video on demand platforms to be eligible for Oscar nominations, as social distancing measures measures caused the closure of many movie theatres and disrupted the traditional selection process.

APTOPIX 92nd Academy Awards - Press Room

Laura Dern, winner of the award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for … [+] “Marriage Story”

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The Academy’s move is the latest sign of the disruption caused by the pandemic, which has caused highly anticipated releases to be delayed, high profile film festivals to be cancelled, and theatre closures throughout the U.S..

The change in rules will only apply to next year’s 93rd Oscars in February 2021, and will be scrapped afterwards.

Before the pandemic, films had to be screened in a Los Angeles cinema for at least one week, to be eligible for nomination.

Now, films that would have been released in theatres have a shot at being nominated through the new, temporary rule.

Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement: “The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater. 

They added: “Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering.  Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules.”

Crucial quote

The Academy said in a statement: “The devastating COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of all Los Angeles County movie theaters as of Monday, March 16, 2020.  Current Academy Awards rules (under Rule Two, Eligibility) require that a film be shown in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for a theatrical qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily. 

“Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories for the 93rd Academy Awards.”

Key background

Movie theatres across the U.S. are not poised to open until new major films are released. Despite some Republican governors making plans to reopen states including Georgia and Oklahoma, AMC is among leading movie theatre firms refusing to reopen its 600+ theatres until at least mid-July, when Hollywood blockbusters such as Mulan will be released. The company’s corporate staff and 150,000 theatre workers have been furloughed amid the closures. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. box office is likely to take a big hit from the closures, as well as the delay of anticipated blockbuster releases such as James Bond film No Time to Die, Lovebirds and Top Gun Maverick.

Further reading

Awards rules and campaign regulation approved for 93rd Oscars (

Hollywood Braces For Coronavirus Slump As Theaters Close, Movie Releases Get Pushed Back (Forbes)

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NFLX In May 2020 — And What To Watch (Forbes)

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