The June 27th announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences regarding new and tweaked rules for the 87th Academy Awards seemed pretty much by-the-numbers at the time, but in the days since has engendered controversy over a new requirement in the Documentary Feature category that now requires even stiffer regulations for a film’s seven-day qualifying run. Instead of the previous requirement of two shows a day without specifying times, the new rule calls for a minimum of four shows per day at theatres in LA and NY with screenings beginning between noon-10 PM including at least one “prime” show beginning between 6-10 PM. Sources at the Academy tell me this is an effort to get the films seen by the public in a theatrical setting.
“The main reason was to get those documentaries to be seen by paying audiences,” an Academy executive told me. “As you know a lot of those (qualifying runs ) movies are basically four-walled at 11 AM and nobody sees them in a theatre. So by allowing four showings daily for a week it allows so much greater access for the consumer and the public to see these movies.” I am told the docu branch leadership was passionate about the change because “it really allows the movie fan to see documentaries with so much more opportunity.” It also reinforces the idea that these Oscar-qualifying films are indeed theatrical experiences, something the Academy has always been rightfully concerned about emphasizing in their annual competition. (more…)