Paramount Pictures has become the first studio to set up a digital screening program for awards voters this year, partnering with Deluxe Entertainment Services Group to set up secure online screening for "Super 8," "Like Crazy" and "Rango" (below).
The Visual Effects Society, which can be expected to have the most tech-savvy members, will be the first voting group to be given access to Deluxe's proprietary platform, which allows individually watermarked copies of the films to be streamed on a variety of PC and Mac computers and tablets.
Additional films may be added to the initiative later in the awards season, and the platform may be made available to other awards voters.
Online streaming has been available for selected awards contenders in the past. Last year, for instance, Fox Searchlight made its films – including "Black Swan" and "127 Hours" – available to the entire Screen Actors Guild membership via iTunes.
This is the first year that the Academy's campaign guidelines have specifically addressed streaming, in a single sentence: "Screeners may also be distributed to members digitally, via download or streaming, so long as the delivery of those motion pictures conforms to all other provisions of these Regulations."
Although the Academy has repeatedly emphasized that it would prefer its members to see films in a theatrical setting, streaming is considered a necessary step for speeding up the delivery process, should AMPAS decide to move the Oscars earlier in the year.