Netflix Wins As Academy Leaves Oscar Eligibility Rule Unchanged


The Academy Board of Governors tonight made several rule changes for next awards season. Not among them: a rumored reckoning over eligibility for films generated by streaming services like Netflix.

“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” said Academy President John Bailey in a statement put out by AMPAS late Tuesday after the organization’s annual Rules meeting had wrapped up.

“Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration,” added Bailey, who is halfway through his term. “We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”

Tonight’s meeting of the 54-person board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences follows pointed criticism that was expressed (and then unexpressed) by Steven Spielberg and others, and a warning from the Justice Department about excluding Netflix seemed to set up a potential confrontation.

Instead, the board left intact Rule Two, the one that established that a film can be eligible for Oscars if it has a minimum 7-day theatrical run in a L.A. County commercial theater. That theater has to have a minimum of three screenings for paid admission each of those seven days, and those movies can be released on streaming sites on or after the first day of their theatrical qualifying run.

As it seemed to be all last Oscar season when it instituted and then removed a Most Popular Film Oscar and then hired and lost Kevin Hart as host, the Academy is facing serious decisions in the fast changing way that the world consumes movies.

Tonight, by not excluding Netflix films from competition the way that the Cannes Film Festival did, 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.

Therefore what looked to be an increasingly heated showdown between the traditionalists and their love of the theatrical experience and the realities of streaming can be summed tonight up as – later skater.

Looking at what the Academy board did do on Tuesday night as opposed to what it did not do, there were a few self-described “housekeeping adjustments” and more. The Academy saved its tweaks for the Foreign Language Film and the Animated Feature categories.

The first category will now be referred to as the International Feature Film, and the antiquated rule saying that there has to be at least eight Animated features released every year for the second category to be “activated” has been tossed.

For instance, in the Makeup and Hairstyling category, there was almost a doubling of sorts. Going forward the category will have five nominated films instead of three and the shortlist is going up from seven to ten pics. While it won’t mean much to the next Roma, the Short Film categories – Animated and Live Action Short Films – received some bi-coastal love tonight. They now can get a theatrical release in L.A. County boundaries or NYC to be eligible for submission

With that, see you on February 9 2020 at the Dolby Theatre.

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