Films that only appear on streaming services like Netflix will be eligible for the 2021 Oscars, a temporary shift in the rules announced Tuesday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Previously, the movie industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony required films to play in Los Angeles theaters for at least a week to qualify, and streaming companies like Netflix would mount limited theatrical runs for their Oscar contenders. With all of L.A.’s theaters closed due to the coronavirus, the Academy has opened up eligibility to films with planned theatrical releases that the pandemic forced to be streaming-only. The change will stay in place only for the 93rd Oscars, according to the press release. The altered rules will no longer apply when theaters reopen, but films can screen in other major metropolitan areas to qualify.
“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 statement reads.