The Academy Awards will permit films that debuted on a streaming service without a cinema run to quality for nominations, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
It marks the first time that streaming films have been eligible to run, but the change is not permanent and will only apply to films released in 2020.
The decision, which was announced on Tuesday, comes after coronavirus severely impacted the film industry, prompting the cancellation of manor film festivals including SXSW and Cannes, as well as the closure of cinemas across the globe.
Under past rules, a film was required to secure a theatrical run of at least seen days in a Los Angeles commercial cinema in order to qualify for the Best Picture award.
But films that have been forced to abandon their cinema release and go straight to streaming services can now qualify for Best Picture and various other categories.
“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,” said David Rubin, Academy president, and CEO Dawn Hudson, in a statement.
“Nonetheless, the historically tragic Covid-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules.”
However, the Academy has also noted that the exemption will no longer apply when theaters eventually re-open. If that happens this summer, as The Guardian reports, then the Academy will expand the qualifying cinemas beyond LA to include screens in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Atlanta.
Other key changes include the Academy combining the ceremony’s two sound categories into one, and prohibiting DVD screeners for 2022’s 94th Oscars in a bid to become carbon neutral.
Netflix has previously been forced to release some of its biggest award contenders — including The Irishman, Roma, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes — in cinemas for up to 21 days total in order to qualify for the ceremony.
Some of 2020’s biggest cinematic releases have already been forced to push back their release dates – including Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond in No Time To Die and Marvel’s Black Widow.