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The Oscars Won’t Block Streaming Services’ Films and Documentaries from Being Nominated

Nick Dimengo

The Oscars is the biggest night in Hollywood, but, in recent months, the annual awards show was, reportedly, locking out certain films and documentaries from taking part. That’s because longtime producer and director Steven Spielberg has openly voiced his frustration with The Oscars including Netflix and other streaming services’ films or docs, hoping that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would keep them off the ballots for nominations.

According to Spielberg, he wanted to keep the “theatrical experience” in theaters, not in households or on streaming services from anywhere.

Per The New York Times:

“I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them,” Mr. Spielberg said in an email in response to queries from The New York Times. “Big screen, small screen — what really matters to me is a great story and everyone should have access to great stories.”

“However, I feel people need to have the opportunity to leave the safe and familiar of their lives and go to a place where they can sit in the company of others and have a shared experience — cry together, laugh together, be afraid together — so that when it’s over they might feel a little less like strangers. I want to see the survival of movie theaters. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.”

Today there was some resolution to Spielberg’s suggestion, with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts The Oscars, having voted against the idea, keeping the current rules that all movies and documentaries — even those on streaming services — will be eligible for an award.

Following the announcement, the Academy’s President, John Bailey, briefly discussed in a release why the decision came to be.

“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” Academy President John Bailey said in a release. “We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”

The vote about The Oscars came after the Department of Justice sent a letter to the Academy suggesting that the rule changes were bordering on antitrust laws under the Sherman Act, which prohibits anti-competitive agreements among competitors. Since streaming service movies and documentaries don’t play in movie theaters, some in the industry argued that they shouldn’t be included in The Oscars.

But with places like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others fighting back, the decision, for now, is to allow productions from these services to take part in the awards show — which might leave some old Hollywood types like Spielberg unhappy, but at least it doesn’t break any antitrust laws.

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