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Academy Tweaks Oscars Rules, Campaign Regulations

New rules make Oscar-qualifying runs stricter and prevent members from attending music performances and other events

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has issued rule changes for the 89th Oscars and for Academy Awards campaigns.

The changes were adopted by the AMPAS Board of Governors on Tuesday night at the same meeting at which it approved inviting a record 683 new members to join the Academy.

The changes were for the most part minor. The most significant new rule makes it more difficult for a film to qualify for the Oscars by requiring that the seven-day qualifying run in Los Angeles County include three screenings per day, with at least one of those screenings taking place between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The previous rule required only a single screening per day, making it much easier for a filmmaker to “four-wall” a theater by paying for that single daily screening.

Films that complete a 2016 qualifying run under the old rules by July 31 are exempt from the new regulation.

Another new rule expands the area in which a New York qualifying run for documentary features can take place; it will now include all the boroughs of New York City. Previously, a film had to be shown in the borough of Manhattan to qualify.

The new Oscars campaign regulations include a non-specific but threatening sentence: “Academy members may not be invited to or attend any non-screening event, party or dinner that is reasonably perceived to unduly influence members or undermine the integrity of the vote.”

Members who violate that rule will be subject to a one-year suspension for the first offense and expulsion for a second violation.

The rules also state that members of the Music Branch may not attend screenings that include the live performance of music eligible for nomination. This will likely eliminate events like last year’s celebrated Brian Wilson performance, which followed a screening of “Love & Mercy” for Academy members.

Rules changes are recommended annually by committees within each Academy branch, which meet following the Oscar show. Those recommendations are passed along to an AMPAS Awards Rules Committee, which reviews the proposed changes and makes its recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors, which has the final say.

The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, in the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles.

The Academy press release:

The Academy’s Board of Governors approved Oscars® rules and campaign regulations for the 89th Academy Awards® at their most recent Board meeting (Tuesday night, 6/28). The most significant changes affect the Los Angeles qualifying run required in most categories, and the New York qualifying run required in the Documentary Feature category.

To be eligible for 2016 Academy Awards consideration in most categories, a feature-length film will still need to complete a Los Angeles qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days, but screenings during this period must now occur at least three times daily, with at least one screening beginning between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Films that complete their Los Angeles qualifying run before July 31, 2016 are exempt from this additional requirement.

In the Documentary Feature category, the geographical area in which the New York qualifying run can take place has been expanded to include all of the city’s boroughs.

Other amendments to the rules include standard date changes and other “housekeeping” adjustments.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for approval.

Updated campaign regulations, which specify how companies and individuals may market to Academy members any movies and achievements eligible for the 89th Academy Awards, are also presented to the Board for approval. The most significant changes affect members’ attendance at certain types of screening and non-screening events.

Music Branch members may not be invited to or attend any screening, non-screening event or concert that includes a live performance of music eligible for nomination.

Academy members may not be invited to or attend any non-screening event, party or dinner that is reasonably perceived to unduly influence members or undermine the integrity of the vote. Members who fail to comply with this regulation will be subject to a one-year suspension of membership for first-time violations and expulsion for subsequent violations, as well as all other available remedies.

For the complete 89th Academy Awards rules and campaign regulations, visit oscars.org/rules.