Academy Awards Oscar statue
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made unprecedented changes to Oscars eligibility rules because of theater closings and film-festival cancellations caused by measures to combat the coronavirus.
On Tuesday morning, the AMPAS Board of Governors voted to approve a new rule stipulating that for the first time, films that premiere on VOD or streaming services can still qualify for Oscar consideration if their planned theatrical releases were canceled because of theater closings.
Those films must be made available to Academy members on the secure AMPAS screening platform, and must also meet other eligibility requirements.
The rule will end on a to-be-determined date after theaters in Los Angeles reopen. In addition, the rule that films must have qualifying runs in Los Angeles County will be changed to allow theatrical runs in New York City, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and the Bay Area in Northern California to qualify films as well.
Films that were made available via a canceled film festival’s online platform will also be allowed to qualify, providing they show proof of inclusion in the festival.
In a statement accompanying the press release that announced the changes, Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said, “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.”
Additional changes not related to the pandemic include combining the two sound categories, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing, into a single Best Achievement in Sound category. This move was made with the cooperation of the Academy’s Sound Branch, which has been studying the feasibility of combining the categories for a number of years.
Up to six statuettes may be awarded in the new category, the largest number for any Oscars category.
In the Music (Original Score) category, an original score is now defined as consisting of at least 60% original music. For sequels and franchise films, scores must consist of 80% new material to qualify.
The procedure has also changed in the first phase of voting in the Academy’s Best International Feature Film category. Previously, voting was open only to members who see a certain number of qualifying films in a theater — but starting this year, all the eligible films will be made available on the members’ streaming platform, and all voting members of the Academy will be eligible as long as they see a minimum number of films.
On the campaign front, the Academy also announced that 2020 will be the last year in which DVD screeners can be mailed to voters. The move is part of the Academy’s sustainability program, and will move screening online rather than with physical media.
The Board of Governors held a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss the changes. The April meeting is one at which the board always considers Academy Awards rule changes, but this year’s discussion was more complicated and more crucial because many of the traditional routes to Oscar qualifying have been shut down since early March.
Here is the AMPAS press release announcing the changes:
The Academy’s Board of Governors has approved rules and campaign regulations for the 93rd Academy Awards®.
The devastating COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of all Los Angeles County movie theaters as of Monday, March 16, 2020. Current Academy Awards rules (under Rule Two, Eligibility) require that a film be shown in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for a theatrical qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily. Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories for the 93rd Academy Awards under these provisions:
The film must be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD release;
The film must meet all other eligibility requirements.
On a date to be determined by the Academy, and when theaters reopen in accordance with federal, state and local specified guidelines and criteria, this rules exemption will no longer apply. All films released thereafter will be expected to comply with the standard Academy theatrical qualifying requirements.
“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,” said Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.
For films to more easily meet theatrical exhibition requirements when theaters reopen, the Academy also will expand the number of qualifying theaters beyond Los Angeles County to include venues in additional U.S. metropolitan areas: the City of New York; the Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia. The Awards and Events Committee will evaluate all matters of rules and eligibility.
Film festivals that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may provide films online through either a transactional pay wall or password-protected entry, which will not affect the films’ eligibility for future Academy Awards qualification. The Academy will allow an exemption for those films that are released online through an impacted festival’s online platform, provided that proof of inclusion in the festival is submitted. With these provisions, films will be expected to comply with all other eligibility requirements for the 93rd Academy Awards.
The Board of Governors also announced rules changes in the Sound, Music and International Feature Film categories.
• The two Sound categories, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, have been combined into one award for best achievement in Sound that emphasizes the team effort. The number of Oscar® statuettes remains the same; up to six statuettes may be awarded. Eligible recipients may include one production sound mixer, two supervising sound editors and three rerecording mixers.
• In the Music (Original Score) category, for a score to be eligible, it must comprise a minimum of 60% original music. Additionally, for sequels and franchise films, a score must have a minimum of 80% new music.
• In a procedural change in the International Feature Film category, all eligible Academy members will now be invited to participate in the preliminary round of voting. For the first time, film submissions will be made available through the Academy Screening Room streaming platform to those members who opt-in. These members of the International Feature Film Preliminary Voting committee must meet a minimum viewing requirement in order to be eligible to vote in the category.
The following campaign regulations were also approved:
• The regulation prohibiting quotes or comments by Academy members not directly associated with the film in any form of advertising in any medium, including online and social media, was eliminated. Academy governors and Awards and Events Committee members, however, are still prohibited from participating in such activity.
• All screeners will be required to include closed captioning.
• After nominations, film companies will be allowed to send mailings announcing the availability of song and bake-off materials on the Academy’s streaming platform.
• As part of the Academy’s sustainability effort, the 93rd Awards season will be the final year DVD screeners will be allowed to be distributed; these mailings will be discontinued starting in 2021 for the 94th Academy Awards. Access to the Academy Screening Room will continue to be made available for all eligible releases. The distribution of physical music CDs, screenplays and hardcopy mailings, including but not limited to paper invites and screening schedules, will also be discontinued next year. Digital links to materials will be permitted.
Due to the shifting landscape surrounding the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, all matters of rules and eligibility for the 93rd Academy Awards are subject to change based on national guidelines, state-mandated government orders and Academy-determined best practices.
Additional adjustments to Academy rules, eligibility requirements and scheduling may be required. As previously announced, the 93rd Oscars telecast is scheduled to air Sunday, February 28, 2021, on ABC. Any updated information about the show will be shared at a later time.
For the complete 93rd Academy Awards rules, visit oscars.org/rules.
Related slideshow: All the Movies Suspended or Delayed Due to Coronavirus Pandemic:
As the coronavirus continues to spread, an increasing number of movies are delaying or suspending production. As the number of impacted movies grows, TheWrap felt it would be most informative to keep a running list.
“No Time to Die”
MGM, Universal and Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced that after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace, the release of “No Time to Die” will be postponed until November 2020.
“A Quiet Place Part II”
Director John Krasinski announced on Instagram that the horror sequel’s March theatrical release would be delayed amid the growing spread of the coronavirus around the globe. Paramount has now dated the film for release on Sept. 4.
“Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway”
“Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” was one of the first films delayed as part of the coronavirus, with Sony pushing its late March release to Aug. 7. But as the shutdowns continued, Sony juggled its release slate so that the family film will now open Jan. 15, 2021.
“Fast and Furious 9”
The release of the next “Fast & Furious” installment, “F9,” has been delayed from May 22 to now opening on April 2, 2021.
Paramount postponed the April 3 theatrical release of the romantic comedy “The Lovebirds” starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani after its SXSW premiere was also canceled. Netflix then acquired the film from Paramount and will release it at a date to be announced.
Paramount delayed the controversial UK gang film “Blue Story,” which was set for release on March 20. A future release date has not been announced.
“The Artist’s Wife”
Strand Releasing and Water’s End Productions delayed the limited release of the Bruce Dern and Lena Olin film “The Artist’s Wife.” The film was meant to open in New York on April 3 in Los Angeles on April 10 and in San Francisco on April 17. No new release date has been set.
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s film “The Truth” from IFC Films will postpone its March 20 domestic release to now open at an unspecified date in summer 2020. The film is in both French and English starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke and has already opened in some overseas markets. IFC Films has set a new release date for July 3.
Disney postponed the release of its blockbuster, live-action remake of the animated film “Mulan” from March 27 to now open on July 24. The shift was part of a big shuffle of films Disney made to its release calendar on April 3.
“The New Mutants”
After numerous delays, 20th Century’s X-Men spinoff “The New Mutants” was also pushed back by Disney “out of an abundance of caution.” The film from director Josh Boone was meant to open April 3. No new release date has been set.
“Antlers,” an indie horror film from director Scott Cooper starring Keri Russell, was also pushed back by Disney and Searchlight Pictures from its April 17 release. No new release date has been set.
“Black Widow” and the MCU
In a restructuring of its entire release calendar, Disney pushed back every Marvel movie in the cinematic universe. “Black Widow” was meant to open on May 1, but will now shift back to the slot previously occupied by “The Eternals” on Nov. 6.“Eternals” is moving to February 12, 2021, “Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings” will open May 7, 2021, and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is shifting to Nov. 5, 2021. The changes also affected Marvel’s slate for 2022 with “Thor: Love and Thunder” opening Feb. 18, 2022, “Black Panther 2” shifting to May 8, 2022, and “Captain Marvel 2,” which was not previously dated, is now set for a July 8, 2022 release.
Untitled Elvis Movie
Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic starring Austin Butler ceased production in Australia after co-star Tom Hanks (playing Presley manager Col. Parker) and his wife, Rita Wilson, tested positive for COVID-19. The planned release date was also bumped back one month to now open Nov. 5, 2021.
“Mission: Impossible 7 and 8”
In late February, Paramount’s action sequel halted production in Italy on the Tom Cruise action sequel. Paramount on April 24 also bumped the release dates of both films, with “M:I 7” moving to November 19, 2021 from its July 2021 release date, and the eighth film also moving back to Nov. 4, 2022 from its summer release.
Sony postponed the Budapest shoot of the drama starring real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning.
“Birds of Paradise”
Amazon Studios halted production in Budapest on director Sarah Adina Smith’s ballet drama.
“Jurassic World: Dominion”
Universal put a pause on production on the third “Jurassic World,” with Chris Pratt returning to star in the dinosaur-stomping sequel.
Universal also halted production on this boxing biopic starring Ice Cube and Ryan Destiny.
“The Man From Toronto”
Sony delayed the start of production on the action comedy starring Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson (who stepped in to replace Jason Statham).
Spanish studio Mediapro suspended production on the new comedy starring Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas.
On March 14, Warner Bros. halted the U.K. production on Matt Reeve’s DC Films reboot for at least two weeks. The film stars Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader. On April 20, Warner Bros. officially shifted the release date back four months to Oct. 1 from its originally planned June 2021 release date. The shift also pushed back some other DC titles, including “The Flash” to June 3, 2022 and “Shazam 2!” to Nov. 4, 2022.
On March 14, MGM paused production on the Sylvester Stallone thriller. The film had been shooting in Atlanta.
Sony’s modernized take on “Cinderella” from director Kay Cannon and starring Camila Cabello will put its production on hiatus due to the travel ban extension to the UK. The film was shooting at Pinewood Studios.
“Fantastic Beasts 3”
The third installment of J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts” series that’s spun off from the Harry Potter universe will postpone its production that was scheduled to begin in March in the U.K. The film stars Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Katherine Waterston.
“The Card Counter”
Paul Schrader’s “The Card Counter,” starring Oscar Isaac, Willem Dafoe, Tye Sheridan and Tiffany Haddish, shut down production in Los Angeles for five days beginning Monday after the director said on Facebook that a “day player” tested positive for the virus. “Myself, I would have shot through hellfire rain to complete the film,” Schrader added. “I’m old and asthmatic, what better way to die than on the job?”
“The Matrix 4”
Production on “The Matrix 4” was temporarily put on hold in March, an individual with knowledge told TheWrap. The sequel starring Keanu Reeves was in production in Berlin, Germany.
After releasing Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow” in limited release on March 6, the distributor announced Monday it will re-release the film in theaters later this year.
The theatrical release of the indie film “Deerskin” from director Quentin Dupieux starring Jean Dujardin has been postponed until further notice. Greenwich Entertainment meant to release the film on March 20 after it played at Cannes, TIFF and Fantastic Fest. The movie will now open via a virtual cinema offering on May 1.
“Uncharted,” the film adaptation of the popular PlayStation video game franchise starring Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, and Antonio Banderas, was unable to begin production in March amid coronavirus concerns. As part of a larger shuffle of Sony’s release slate, the most recent release date for the film was also shifted back from March 2021 to Oct. 8, 2021.
Sony Pictures Classics’ indie comedy “The Climb,” which played at Sundance this year, was meant to hit theaters March 20 but is now delayed until further notice.
The sequels to James Cameron’s four “Avatar” sequels delayed shooting in New Zealand indefinitely, according to the film’s producer Jon Landau speaking to the New Zealand Herald. The executive team was to fly to Wellington, NZ on Friday but will remain in Los Angeles due to the coronavirus. Landau said he couldn’t give an answer as to when production would resume and when the local Kiwi crew could get back to work. “If I told you we are going to know something in two weeks I’d be lying. I might not be wrong – even a broken clock is right twice a day. But I would be lying because I don’t know,” Landau said. “We’re in the midst of a global crisis and this is not about the film industry. I think everybody needs to do now whatever we can do, as we say here, to flatten the curve.”
“The Personal History of David Copperfield”
Searchlight Studios was meant to release “Veep” creator Armando Iannucci’s comedic take on the Charles Dickens novel on May 8. No new release date has been set.
“The Woman in the Window”
The Amy Adams mystery thriller from director Joe Wright, “The Woman in the Window” was meant to open in theaters on May 15 from 20th Century Studios. No new release date has been set.
The theatrical release of the Annie Silverstein indie drama “Bull” was postponed from its March 20 release and will now open on VOD and digital on May 1. The film has toured the festival circuit since making its debut at Cannes in 2019.
“Minions: The Rise of Gru”
The latest “Minions” movie “The Rise of Gru” was postponed from its release date on July 3. Illumination Entertainment’s Paris office was forced to shut down due to the coronavirus, so the film was not able to be finished in time. Universal will release the film on July 2, 2021, a full year after its initial date.
“Wonder Woman 1984”
The sequel to “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Gadot will now hit theaters on Aug. 14 after being pushed back from its June 5 release date.
“In the Heights”
The movie musical based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s stage production “In the Heights” was postponed by Warner Bros. from its June 26 release date and bumped to June 18, 2021.
“Malignant,” a horror film from director James Wan, was pushed indefinitely from its release date on Aug. 14 to clear the way for “Wonder Woman 1984” to open at the tail end of the summer.
“Peter Rabbit 2,” “Morbius” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”In a sweeping overhaul of its release slate, Sony moved three films it had scheduled for release this summer to the first quarter of 2021. The “Peter Rabbit” sequel will now be released in January 2021 while both “Morbius” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” have been moved to next March.
“Greyhound”Sony has also moved a WWII drama written by and starring Tom Hanks off of its mid-June release date, though a new date has not yet been set.
Universal has removed the movie musical adaptation of “Wicked” from its release slate from its original date on Dec. 22, 2021, and will be redated at a later time.
Illumination’s “Sing 2” will now open in the place vacated by “Wicked” on Universal’s release slate on Dec. 22, 2021.
“Top Gun: Maverick”
The sequel to the 1985 hit starring Tom Cruise has been pushed back from June 24 to December 23, 2020.
Universal’s horror film “Candyman” from director Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele will move from its June 12 release date to Sept. 25, 2020.
The Will Packer-produced musical comedy “Praise This” about a church choir was delayed from its Sept. 25 release date and will be re-added to the slate by Universal at a later date.
“The Spongebob Movie: Sponge On The Run”
Paramount shifted the animated “Spongebob” movie from its release date on May 22 to now open July 31.
With the shift of “Mulan,” Disney moved the release of the Dwayne Johnson adventure comedy “Jungle Cruise” back a full year to July 30, 2021.
The Ryan Reynolds video game comedy was meant to open July 3 but will now open Dec. 11.
“The French Dispatch”
Director Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” moved from July 24, 2020 to Oct. 16, 2020 as part of Disney’s shift of its entire release calendar.
Untitled Indiana Jones
The fifth Indiana Jones movie starring Harrison Ford has already shifted its release date in response to Disney’s wave of other release changes. It will now open July 29, 2022.
Universal’s “Nobody,” a revenge thriller and action movie starring Bob Odenkirk from the writer of “John Wick” and the producers of “Atomic Blonde,” was delayed from its Aug. 14, 2020 release date to now open on Feb. 26, 2021. As a result, an untitled M. Night Shyamalan thriller that was slated for that day is now undated and will be re-added to the calendar later.
“Soul” and “Raya and the Last Dragon”
Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” was moved from its June release date to open on Nov. 20. It’s now opening near where the Disney Animation Studios film “Raya and the Last Dragon” was meant to open. That movie will now debut March 12, 2021. It filled the slot of an unnamed Disney live-action film that has now been removed from the slate.
The latest film from director Antoine Fuqua starring Mark Wahlberg, “Infinite,” was pushed back by Paramount from its Aug. 7 release date to now open on Memorial Day weekend, May 28, 2021. The film is currently in post-production, and while “Infinite” wasn’t explicitly pushed back due to the coronavirus, the new date allows the studio more time to ramp up the film’s original intellectual property.
“The Many Saints of Newark”
The prequel to “The Sopranos” that follows a young Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini’s son Michael Gandolfini, during the 1960s Newark riots was pushed to 2021, now opening on March 12, 2021 after originally slated for a September 2020 release.
The biopic about the life of tennis great Richard Williams starring Will Smith was pushed from its November 2020 release date to now opening almost a full year later on Nov. 19, 2021.
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage”
While the “Venom” sequel did get a new title from Sony in its latest update, “Let There Be Carnage,” it also found itself pushed back from an October release to now open on June 25, 2021.
“Dungeons & Dragons”
Paramount’s movie based on the “Dungeons & Dragons” game from the directors of “Game Night,” John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, has been delayed from a November 2021 release date to May 27, 2022.
Paramount’s horror film starring Omari Hardwick that was set for release in August of this year was pulled from the release calendar, with no new date set as of yet.