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I’m Ready for My Close-Up: Streaming Movies Qualify for Oscars

Fern Siegel

The coronavirus has changed life — off and on screen.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that determines Oscar eligibility, has made new rules for streamers.

It will allow any film that premieres on VOD or a streaming service to qualify for an Oscar — if its planned theatrical release was canceled due to theater closings, reports The Wrap.

That’s an important proviso: The rule bending is only for this year’s contenders.

Such films will be made available to Academy members on a secure AMPAS platform, assuming all other requirements are met.

Screening locales have also been altered for now. Previously, films had to have qualifying runs in LA County. Now, theatrical runs in New York, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and the Bay Area work, too.

Finally, films available on a festival’s online platform will also be considered — as long as they were part of the event.

Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson, however, were clear in stating the big picture: “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. The Academy supports our members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty. We recognize the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever.”

In short, the new rules are finite.

The duo told the trade magazine the streaming premiere proviso remains until “a date to be determined by the Academy, and when theaters reopen in accordance with federal, state and local specified guidelines and criteria.”

The other Academy changes announced: Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing categories are now one — Best Achievement in Sound. Also, an original score is now defined as containing 60 percent new music. Sequels and franchise films have a higher bar: 80 percent. Finally, in support of sustainability, 2020 is the last year DVD screeners can be mailed to voters.