The 93rd Oscars, currently set for Feb. 28, 2021, will now include films that debut on a streaming or video-on-demand (VOD) service. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has its headquarters in Beverly Hills, announced on April 28 that it would make a one-time exception due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All movie theaters closed on March 16, with a future reopening date likely still months away. According to Nielsen, the data analytics company, media consumption has significantly increased among home-bound consumers.
“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater. Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering. Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules,” Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson stated in a release issued by the Academy.
When theaters reopen in accordance with federal, state and local specified guidelines and criteria, the exemption will no longer apply.
Before the pandemic, the Academy required that a film be shown in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for at least seven consecutive days with at least three daily screenings in order to qualify as a contender. For the 2021 Oscars, films with a previously planned theatrical release that pivoted to release via these other modes due to COVID-19 may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories as long as the film meets all other eligibility requirements.
The Academy will expand the number of qualifying theaters beyond Los Angeles to more easily meet theatrical exhibition requirements once theaters reopen and the exception is no longer in place.
In addition to allowing films that debut in these two non-traditional ways to compete in 2021, the Academy announced that it will combine the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing awards into one category.