A letter sent this week by SAG Awards organizers to film studios confirmed that the annual show will join the Oscars and Golden Globes in revising their film-eligibility guidelines this year in the face of the coronavirus shutdown that has closed all movie theaters nationwide.
The SAG rules, to be finalized next month, will allow titles with a planned theatrical release to be eligible if streamed or released on VOD first, according to the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by Deadline.
The other major guild awards are expected to follow suit in this most unusual year, when films that typically must qualify by having theatrical release runs in Los Angeles, or in L.A. and New York, can’t do so because of the shutdown. Most major studios have pushed their summer and fall films into the fall and winter, and even into 2021, as the forecast for the reopening of multiplexes remains foggy at best.
Deadline has reached out to reps from the PGA Awards, WGA Awards and DGA Awards to ask about their plans.
On April 28, both the Oscars organizer the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Golden Globes organizers the Hollywood Foreign Press Association unveiled changes to film eligibility requirements for their ceremonies honoring 2020’s best movies.
For the Oscars, eligibility rules for films opening on streaming services and video on demand were “temporarily” altered to allow them to qualify even if not first appearing with the standard seven-day theatrical-qualifying run, or day and date. Films still will have to qualify by being made available on the Academy’s exclusive streaming site within 60 days of streamer or VOD release and must have been previously intended for a theatrical release.
The Academy also for the first time expanded the number of eligible theaters to include some outside Los Angeles County and into other areas and several cities to make this all that much easier to accomplish for distributors.
The HFPA’s rules changes state that “Motion pictures that had a bona fide theatrical release planned to begin in Los Angeles during the period from March 15 until a date to be determined by HFPA when cinemas in the Los Angeles area have generally reopened, may instead be released first on a television format (e.g. subscription streaming service, subscription cable channel, broadcast television, etc.) and will still be eligible for the Golden Globe motion picture awards.” The group made similar concessions for foreign-language entries.
The 2021 Oscars remain scheduled for February 28. The Golden Globes have not set a 2021 date, but if all returns to near-normal it likely would go on Sunday, January 10.