Golden Globes Suspend Eligibility Rules Because of Coronavirus Theater Closings

The changes will make it easier for films to qualify for awards even if they have lost their theatrical release

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has suspended two of the eligibility rules for the Golden Globe Awards in light of movie theater closures necessitated by the spread of the coronavirus.

The suspensions, which are temporary but could be extended, mean that films that lost their Los Angeles theatrical runs can still qualify for the Golden Globes, and exhibitors will no longer be required to invite HFPA members to official screenings.

The HFPA announced in a statement that the measures were taken “to adjust the requirements for Golden Globe Awards eligibility due to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic on motion picture and television distribution and exhibition.”

It added, “The HFPA will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on motion picture and television distribution and exhibition and may extend these suspensions of the Golden Globe award rules and/or may make other temporary variations to those rules as it considers appropriate in the future.”

The first of the two eligibility rules to be suspended declares, “To be eligible for Golden Globe motion picture awards, an official screening of the motion picture must be arranged for all HFPA members … at a third-party facility in the greater Los Angeles area.” These screenings, the rule states, must take place either before or within one week after the film’s theatrical release in L.A.

This rule has been temporarily suspended to cover the period from March 15 to April 30, 2020. During that time, distributors must still contact the HFPA to arrange a “screening date” on the official HFPA calendar — but rather than hold an actual screening on that date, it must provide all members of the organization with a screening link or DVD copy of the film.

The second suspended rule defines the exhibition requirements needed for a film to qualify for the Golden Globes: “Motion pictures are considered released when they are made available for exhibition in theaters or on pay-per-view cable or pay-per-view digital delivery (not subscription cable or digital delivery) in the greater Los Angeles area for a minimum seven-day period beginning prior to midnight, December 31 of the qualifying year.”

Because of the closure of all Los Angeles theaters, this rule has been suspended for all motion pictures “that had a bona fide theatrical release planned to begin in Los Angeles during the period from March 15 to April 30, 2020.” Those films can now have their initial release on a television format (“e.g. subscription streaming service, subscription cable channel, broadcast television, etc.”) and still retain their Globes eligibility.

The HPFA committee in charge of eligibility will “consider application of this suspension of the rules on a case-by-case basis” when compiling the annual list of eligible films.

Other awards bodies have also made changes because of the coronavirus’ effect on the film industry, or are considering changes. Last week, the Film Independent Spirit Awards changed its own eligibility rules to allow films to qualify if they were scheduled to premiere at a festival that was canceled. More than 200 films qualified by being chosen for SXSW and Tribeca, neither of which took place.

The Academy has also announced that it is “in the process of evaluating all aspects of this uncertain landscape and what changes may need to be made” with regard to Oscars eligibility. Its Board of Governors is expected to vote on changes in April.

The 78th Golden Globe Awards is scheduled to take place in January of 2021.

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