In a letter sent to BAFTA members, the organization said, “I regret to tell you that, on Tuesday, Cineworld informed us of its unilateral decision to withdraw its support of BAFTA, citing similar concerns [to those expressed by fellow commercial chain Vue] regarding the eligibility requirements of the Film Awards.”
Vue recently threatened to withdraw support for BAFTA, claiming the organization had broken its own rules by making “made for TV” film Roma awards eligible this year. Vue claimed the film had not had sufficient theatrical play to qualify for a BAFTA. But the UK organization denied that it had contravened its own rules and those close to the film’s UK distribution were keen to stress to us that it had played in more than a handful of cinemas over a sustained period.
BAFTA said in today’s letter that it is in discussions with Vue and that there is a “review of our eligibility criteria in the coming months.”
As a result of the Cineworld snub, BAFTA informs its members today that they will no longer be able to use their BAFTA membership card to watch films at Cineworld sites from Monday to Thursday.
BAFTA signs off by saying, “We encourage all cinema exhibitors to have their voices heard as part of the ongoing process of review and we look forward to continuing that dialogue with all sectors of our industry in the coming months.”
Cineworld is the UK’s largest operator by market share with more than 1000 screens. In January, Cineworld-owned Regal left Roma out of its Best Picture showcase.
Oscar-winner Roma has encountered controversy over its release and awards eligibility since it debuted at the Venice Film Festival last year. While the windowing debate is not new, Roma is Netflix’s highest-profile awards contender to date so the debate has been amplified. The film won three Academy Awards this month: best director, best foreign language film and best cinematography.
We’ve reached out to BAFTA and Cineworld for comment.