Oscars Ease Eligibility Rules, Allow Films With Drive-In Releases to Qualify

Films that premiere on streaming platforms can also qualify if they are made available on the Academy’s virtual screening room for members

Academy Awards Oscar statue

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has eased the eligibility rules allowing films to qualify for the Oscars without traditional theatrical releases. A new addendum was made to eligibility rules that were originally passed after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted theater closings. The addendum allows films that were planned for a theatrical release to qualify even if they have initially been released on streaming or VOD platforms, as long as they are made available to voters on the Academy Screening Room within 60 days of release. It also allows films to qualify with theatrical runs in one of six cities, and it allows drive-in theaters to qualify as commercial venues in those cities. With two drive-in theaters in Los Angeles County, that makes L.A. bookings a road to Oscar eligibility for the first time since the city’s indoor theaters closed in the spring. The additions to current rules were made by the Board of Governors at an Oct. 6 meeting. From the Academy: With the gradual re-opening of theaters, an addendum was added to clarify the two methods for qualification in the Best Picture and general entry categories moving forward through the end of this exceptional awards year (February 28, 2021.) 1. Films which are intended for theatrical release, but are initially made available through commercial streaming, VOD service or other broadcast may qualify by making the film available on the secure Academy Screening Room member site within 60 days of the film’s streaming/VOD release or broadcast. 2. Films may qualify with a traditional theatrical release, completing a seven-day run in one of six qualifying cities (Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta), screening at least three times daily, with at least one screening between 6 pm and 10 pm daily. Additionally, drive-in theaters in these cities will now qualify as a commercial venue, however, the screening requirement will be adjusted from three times daily to once daily. Films that have a theatrical release are not required to submit to the Academy Screening Room within 60 days–It is optional.


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