Oscar did it. So did the Golden Globes, SAG and earlier today the Producers Guild. Now it is the Directors Guild that has just announced it will alter eligibility rules — temporarily — to allow films with proven intent to have been released theatrically, but which due to the coronavirus pandemic instead debuted on other platforms, to still be able to compete in the 2021 guild awards. This means there will be an exception to the usual criteria for the DGA Awards’ Theatrical Feature Film, First-Time Feature Film, and Documentary Feature categories, the marquee Theatrical Feature Film category in particular which has always required a 7 consecutive day run in theatres
“Every aspect of our world and our lives has been affected by this pandemic – and that includes our culture,” DGA president Thomas Schlamme said. “Numerous directors who’ve spent years bringing their visions to life are grappling with the reality that their theatrical releases are canceled. And while the unfortunate circumstances of this present situation prevent those plans from coming to fruition as their films are now being distributed on other platforms, we want to ensure that our members are being recognized by their peers for their work as intended. It is in this spirit that we are allowing a rule exception for the 2021 DGA Awards.”
The temporary rule exception was passed by a unanimous vote of the DGA National Board at its April meeting. Regularly, a seven-day theatrical run in Los Angeles or New York is required for filmmakers to be eligible in the Theatrical Feature category, and that run must be prior to any other exhibition (i.e., no day-and-date streaming or on-demand). This year is obviously different and the rule is being relaxed in this special instance.
“The limited exception for the 2021 DGA Awards will apply to theatrical motion pictures that establish they had a scheduled or planned bona fide theatrical release with a commercial motion picture theater distribution chain in Los Angeles or New York after March 13, 2020 when the theaters closed – and were instead distributed on video on demand (pay-per-view or streaming) on a national platform for at least seven (7) consecutive days,” the DGA said in its release, adding that “precise eligibility criteria” is being determined as the fluid situation develops.