The Directors Guild said Tuesday that its board has reinstated a requirement that for feature films to be eligible for DGA Awards’ marquee Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film Award must first have an exclusive seven-day theatrical run before hitting any other platform if they are released after June 15, 2021.
The news comes as the guild set its eligibility periods for the 2022 DGA Awards, which it said today have been set for March 12.
Last year, the DGA along with the rest of the major film-season awards groups relaxed rules on eligible films showing first in theaters with most shut down during the pandemic. The original rule, established in 2019, feature films released through other distribution platforms day-and-date with their theatrical premieres would not be eligible
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Under the 2022 requirements, the eligibility period runs from March 1-December 31, 2021, in lockstep with the 2022 Oscars. The first-run requirement made official today by the DGA will apply to all theatrical feature films released June 15 or later. The guild said that for theatrical feature films released March 1-June 14, 2021, the limited exception will still apply. However a film like Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow directed by Cate Shortland which drew strong reviews today (including Deadline’s) and is scheduled to debut day and date on July 9 with theatrical and Disney+ would miss the boat unless they quickly arrange a 7 day qualifying run beginning this Friday. The bigger problem will be for Warner Bros. which has deemed that their entire theatrical release schedule for 2021 will debut day and date with a month long run on HBO Max. The slate includes such expected awards contenders as Sopranos prequel The Many Saints Of Newark, Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, The Will Smith starring tennis drama King Richard, and more including Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming July 1 HBO Max debut No Sudden Move. With the new rule, unless release strategy is changed to accomodate the DGA rule, all of these films would be ineligible for the top DGA award. The Guild did not say if the new rule would also affect the First Time Feature Directorial category as well, but it would seem logical that it would. Streamers like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Apple will obviously be affected too if they were not planning on seven day theatrical qualifying engagements due to the still loose Oscar rules in place for the pandemic.
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“After over a year of darkness, theater marquees lighting up across our nation have been a welcome sight for our healing communities,” DGA president Thomas Schlamme said after news of the board vote was released. “We celebrate the return of the important role that theatrical cinema plays in bringing together audiences as they collectively experience films as the filmmakers intended them to be viewed.”
The DGA previously said it would reinstate the first-run rule after Los Angeles and New York cinemas reopened.
The 2022 Oscars, meanwhile, will be held Sunday, March 27, a full month earlier than this year’s latest-ever Covid-challenged April 25 show.
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