The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will not change eligibility rules for the Oscars, which means Netflix will not face a roadblock in its quest to win the best picture award.
Earlier this week, at its annual April rules meeting, the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to maintain that any feature-length film can be considered for the Academy Award as long as it has a seven-day run, with three public screenings per day, in Los Angeles. Films can hit alternative release platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime on or after the first day of a run and remain eligible.
“In the aftermath of Netflix’s success with Roma at the 91st Oscars – the film won three Oscars, including best director, suggesting it came close to winning best picture, too – some in the Hollywood community, including directors branch governor Steven Spielberg, expressed a desire to make it harder for films that do not receive sizable theatrical runs to compete for the Academy’s top honor,” noted The Hollywood Reporter.
However, many key players in Hollywood, including indie filmmakers and filmmakers of color, spoke up in defense of Netflix, or at least not raising the bar for eligibility for the best picture Oscar. And for now, that side has prevailed.
“Motion pictures released in nontheatrical media on or after the first day of their Los Angeles County theatrical qualifying run remain eligible,” the Academy said in a statement late Tuesday night.
“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” Academy President John Bailey said in a statement. “Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration.”
John Bailey also added that the board would “further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues”. The board did pass a few other measures: The release of eight eligible animated features within the calendar year is no longer required to trigger a best animated feature Oscar category – this is a reflection of the fact that far more than 8 eligible animated features are released every year.
Among other changes, the foreign language film category will now be called the international feature film category. “We have noted that the reference to ‘foreign’ is outdated within the global filmmaking community,” Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, co-chairs of the International Feature Film Committee, said in the statement. “We believe that international feature film better represents this category, and promotes a positive and inclusive view of filmmaking, and the art of film as a universal experience.”
By not excluding Netflix films from competition, the Academy has left itself open to the influence of changes that will become more exacerbated as more major studio-backed streaming services get underway. The 92nd Oscars are scheduled to take place on February 9, 2020.
– With information from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety