In a blow to the streaming world, the Directors Guild of America’s national board has voted unanimously to ban day-and-date film releases from eligibility for its top DGA Award, which has now been renamed Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film.
“The DGA proudly affirms that a first-run theatrical release is a distinctive element of our feature film award,” DGA president Thomas Schlamme said Wednesday in a statement. “We celebrate the important role that theatrical cinema has played in bringing together audiences as they collectively experience films as the filmmakers intended them to be viewed. We also take great pride in recognizing all of the work created by our members through the many categories and formats that are part of the DGA Awards.”
The guild says all previous DGA feature film nominees, including last year’s winner Roma, would have qualified for the top award under the new rule. The board also decided that the new first-run theatrical release rule will not be applied to the DGA First-Time Feature Film Award category.
This is still not expected to impact Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apple and other upcoming streamers in any big way since the films they likely target for awards will get at least some kind of nominal theatrical release prior to running on the streaming service. Distributors who regularly release day-and-date, though, will have to rethink that strategy if they hope to qualify for the main, and much prized, DGA award. Whether other guilds, or even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, follow suit is an open question. Right now, AMPAS’ Oscar-qualifying rules, recently reinforced after their April board of governors meeting, only stipulate that day-and-date releases are eligible as long as they meet the other requirements including a seven-day theatrical run in Los Angeles County with at least three showtimes including one prime showtime per day. The Directors Guild today took it further for their awards.
The DGA says all other eligibility requirements remain intact for the 2020 annual DGA Awards, but they reserve the right following the ceremony to make further adjustments “as the industry continues to develop.” At any rate, they have become the first to reaffirm official support for the theatrical moviegoing experience in this way, and it will be interesting to see what effect it has.
The 72nd DGA Awards will presented on January 25, 2020.