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Directors Guild Eliminates ‘Day and Date’ Film Releases for Awards Contention

Last year’s DGA Award winner ”Roma“ from Netflix would still be eligible under the new rules

The Directors Guild has eliminated films that are released via a “day and date” model in theaters and simultaneously on another platform, dealing a blow to streaming titles competing for awards, the DGA announced Wednesday.

However, the guild said that last year’s winner, Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” as well as all the other nominees for its top film award would still have qualified if the the new rule had been in effect.

The award has been renamed the “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film” from “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film.” The new rule only applies in that category, with day-and-date releases still eligible in the First-Time Feature Film Award category.

They will also continue to be eligible in the DGA’s documentary category, which in the past has nominated theatrical releases alongside nonfiction miniseries like “The Vietnam War” and “O.J.: Made in America.”

While Netflix has in the past done day-and-date releases for some of its awards contenders, including “22 July” and “Beasts of No Nation,” it has increasingly turned to short theatrical windows which would qualify its films under the new DGA rule. Amazon, the other major streaming service that distributes original films, routinely gives those films a theatrical window before online release.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences allows day-and-date releases to qualify for the Oscars, and its Board of Governors recently opted not to change that rule.

The DGA’s National Board voted unanimously to approve its rule change on Saturday. The new rule will take effect for the upcoming awards cycle for the 72nd Annual DGA Awards.

The exact wording of the rule is that “films that are released through other distribution platforms on the same ‘day and date’ as they premiere in theaters will no longer be eligible for the top DGA Award.”

“The DGA proudly affirms that a first-run theatrical release is a distinctive element of our feature film award,”  DGA president Thomas Schlamme said in a statement. “We celebrate the important role that theatrical cinema has played in bringing together audiences as they collectively experience films as the filmmakers intended them to be viewed. We also take great pride in recognizing all of the work created by our members through the many categories and formats that are part of the DGA Awards.”

All other feature film eligibility rules remain unchanged, and full eligibility details will be included in entry forms released later this summer. Following the 72nd Annual DGA Awards, the Guild will continue to review eligibility requirements and may make further adjustments as the industry continues to develop.

The debate over streaming vs. theatrical releases as it relates to the awards season has been waged recently at many awards bodies, including the Academy as well. “Roma” was part of a massive Oscar campaign for Netflix and was shown exclusively in theaters for three weeks before its streaming debut. Netflix’s “The Irishman,” from director Martin Scorsese, will be released with a similar theatrical window later this year.

Steve Pond contributed to this report.