In light of the Oscars allowing streaming films to be eligible for awards this cycle, the TV Academy re-iterated its own rule that any program that gets nominated for an Oscar will be disqualified from Emmys consideration.
“The Television Academy supports the recent decision from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to allow feature films, originally intended for theatrical distribution but made available via streaming or video on demand during the current pandemic crisis, to compete at the 2021 Oscars,” a statement released on Thursday read. “Further, the Television Academy ruled in March that effective in 2021, programs that have been nominated for an Oscar will no longer be eligible for the Emmys competition.”
Last month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to approve a new rule stipulating that for the first time, films that premiere on VOD or streaming services can still qualify for Oscar consideration if their planned theatrical releases were canceled because of theater closings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The new rule will likely impact the Emmy’s nonfiction categories, but not have much effect outside of those.
Double-dipping has been an issue in the documentary and nonfiction categories for years, leading to Michael Moore, among others, suggesting that documentaries should not be allowed to compete for both Oscars and Emmys. Last year, Emmy nominees for documentary and nonfiction programming included four of the five 2018 Oscar nominees in the Best Documentary Feature category: “Free Solo,” which won the Oscar, along with nominees “RBG,” “Minding the Gap” and “Hale County This Morning, This Evening.”
In the past, the Television Academy has defended allowing Oscar-nominated documentaries to retain Emmy eligibility if they have been made by a television entity. “Free Solo,” for example, was a NatGeo production that received a theatrical release to qualify for film awards.
In 2016, the multi-part ESPN documentary series “O.J.: Made in America” caused controversy when it qualified for Oscar consideration by running in one theater as a single eight-hour movie; after it won the Oscar, the Motion Picture Academy changed its rules to disallow multi-part docs from contention.
The new Television Academy ruling is unlikely to have much impact in the Outstanding Made for Television Movie and acting categories. The Oscars will only accept films that were scheduled to have a theatrical release – and the ones that have moved from theatrical to VOD so far this year fall into the 2020 Emmy season, when the rule has yet to take effect.