Academy Keeps Oscar Eligibility Rules; Netflix Remains in Contention


BEVERLY HILLS (CNS) - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced tonight it won't change its eligibility rules to exclude streaming films from Oscar consideration.

The academy's Board of Governors voted to maintain its rule requiring a film to have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission for a film to be eligible.

Motion pictures released in nontheatrical media on or after the first day of their Los Angeles County theatrical qualifying run remain eligible.

“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” said academy President John Bailey.

“Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”

The emergence of the Netflix release “Roma” as the best picture favorite despite a limited theatrical release drew criticism from some in the industry, led by Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg.

“Once you commit to a television format, you're a TV movie,” Spielberg said in a 2017 interview with the British network ITV. “You certainly -- if it's a good show -- deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar.”

Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's antitrust division, sent a letter to the academy CEO Dawn Hudson in March warning that potential rule changes limiting the eligibility of Netflix movies in Oscar competition might violate antitrust law, the entertainment trade publication Variety reported.

The civil rights drama “Green Book” received the best picture Oscar.

The most significant rule change was changing the foreign language film category to international feature film. However, no changes were made to any existing category rules, the submission process or eligibility requirement.

An international feature film is defined as a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue track. Animated and documentary feature films are permitted. Only one film is accepted from each nation as the official selection.

“We have noted that the reference to `foreign' is outdated within the global filmmaking community,” Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, co- chairs of the academy's International Feature Film Committee, said in a statement.

“We believe that international feature film better represents this category, and promotes a positive and inclusive view of filmmaking, and the art of film as a universal experience.”

The shortlist for the international feature film award is expanding to 10 films -- seven to be chosen by the Phase I International Feature Film Committee and the additional three to be voted by the International Feature Film Award Executive Committee.

In the animated feature category, the theatrical release of eight eligible animated features in the calendar year is no longer required for the awards category to be activated.

In the makeup and hairstyling category, the number of nominated films is increasing from three to five, and the shortlist is increasing from seven to 10.

In the short film categories, animated and live action short films now have the option to qualify theatrically in either New York City or Los Angeles County to be eligible for submission.

Photo: Getty Images

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