Rules and regulations for the 94th annual Oscars have been approved by the AMPAS board of governors and were released Wednesday morning. As previously announced, most of the pandemic-related changes instituted last year — including loosening requirements of eligibility for streaming and VOD movies — will remain intact for the shortened 2021 year, which includes films released between March 1-December 31, 2021.
The Academy again reemphasizes it intends to address the whole issue of eligibility and qualifying requirements and possible expansion for the 95th awards at a later date.
For films that open in theaters, the six qualifying U.S. metropolitan areas are Los Angeles County, the City of New York, the Bay Area, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta, and apply to General Entry categories as well as the Documentary and Short Film categories.
AMPAS requirements differ from the Directors Guild of America, which Tuesday said its DGA Awards are returning to a requirement of first having a seven-day theatrical run (that means in theatres) in advance of exhibition in any other form (streaming, VOD, etc.) in order to be eligible to compete for their top directing honors in motion pictures. The DGA, sticking to the same 10-month period as Oscars and other 2021 awards, did make an exception for films already released between March 1-June 15. All others going forward must comply with the theatrical requirement.
The Oscars, on the other hand is fine once again for this year with a day-and-date release, or strictly on the other approved platforms, since it believes exhibition remains significantly impacted by the pandemic.
Also as previously announced, the Oscars are returning to a set number of 10 nominees for Best Picture, rather than the recent rule that between five and 10 films could be nominated depending on vote totals. This is clearly in hopes of getting more popular crowd-pleasers in contention and hopefully helping dwindling ratings that hit an all-time low for the April 25 Oscarcast on ABC (admittedly severely impacted by Covid considerations and theaters being closed all year for the most part). By the way, although not mentioned in today’s release or in the actual rules document, the Academy Inclusion Standards form kicks into action with the 94th Oscars and will be required as part of the submissions process, but still not go into actual working effect until the 96th awards. This of course is all about meeting certain standards of diversity in the actual making of Best Picture contenders.
Tweaks to the rules also include a significant change in the Music branch, where now only 35% of total music in a film is necessary to be eligible, down from 60%. Also, for Original Song, no more than five tunes from a single film can now be entered for consideration. For the Sound award, which last year was reduced from two to one category combining mixing and editing, there will now be a preliminary round of voting to get a shortlist of 10 films, along with a bakeoff-style presentation similar to that used in some other branches.
The Academy board also agreed to expand the shortlist of contenders for Documentary Short, Animated Short and Live Action Short from 10 to 15 films.
Submission deadlines are as follows:
Documentary Short Subject – Friday, October 15, 2021
Animated Short Film – Friday, October 15, 2021
Live Action Short Film – Friday, October 15, 2021
Animated Feature Film – Monday, November 1, 2021
Documentary Feature – Monday, November 1, 2021
International Feature Film – Monday, November 1, 2021
Original Score – Monday, November 1, 2021
Original Song – Monday, November 1, 2021
General Entry categories – Monday, November 15, 2021
Campaign regulations, which specify how companies and individuals may market to Academy members any movies and achievements eligible for the 94th Academy Awards, were also updated. As a reminder, the mailings of DVDs, CDs and physical screenplays are discontinued starting this year. ccess to the Academy Screening Room will continue to be made available for all eligible releases. Digital links to materials will be permitted.
For the complete 94th Academy Awards rules, visit oscars.org/rules.