The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Science has declined to pursue any proposal to change the Oscars' eligibility criteria, a decision that has benefitted several online streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. The decision comes after a long battle over how long a movie should run in a theater before it reaches the streaming platforms, DVD or other small screen mediums.
The board of governors declared on Tuesday that any feature-length movie is qualified for the awards as long as it has a seven-day run, with three public screenings per day, in theaters. The film can also alternately release on Netflix, Amazon, and other platforms, after the first day run at theaters.
Academy President John Bailey said in a statement, "We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions. Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration.”
The concern about movies running on streaming networks, alongside theaters, was brought up by director Steven Spielberg, who told ITV News: "Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.” Spielberg's concern had perhaps been the biggest obstacle for Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma', which earned Netflix around three Oscars.
'Roma' was on Netflix just within three weeks of its theater release; at the time, two giant theatrical chains, Cinepolis and Cinemax, had refused to screen the film as they demanded that Netflix push its release date of 'Roma' which was initially set for December 14.
According to the theatrical houses' norms, any film requires to have a complete 90-day theatrical window before they are available for streaming online or on VOD platforms. However, Matt Brodlie, director of acquisitions for Netflix, had offered both chains the opportunity to show 'Roma' in the three-week window ahead of the film’s Netflix release on December 14. The film released in a limited number of 50 screens.
The Academy's decision to allow a feature film, irrespective of its medium of release, to compete at the Oscars has taken its place in the Academy's rulebook. Among the new changes, the foreign film category has gone through a change as it will now be referred to as, "International Feature Film".
The co-chairs of the category's committee, Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann said: "We have noted that the reference to 'Foreign' is outdated within the global filmmaking community. We believe that International Feature Film better represents this category, and promotes a positive and inclusive view of filmmaking, and the art of film as a universal experience." The rest of the updated rules can be found in the rulebook.