Streaming movies are still eligible for Oscars: Academy

Steven Spielberg at San Diego Comic Con

Streaming content will continue to be eligible for the Oscars despite pushback from famed director Steven Spielberg, according to a ruling from the Academy’s board of directors.

Spielberg opposed the inclusion of streaming films in the awards’ eligibility because, as he argued, streaming services are an inherently TV-like home-viewing experience.

This does not change the requirement for a seven day theatrical run in Los Angeles. Though, it does mean a movie vying for an award does not need to show in physical theatres elsewhere — it can appear on streaming services the day of the first showing.

“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” said Academy President John Bailey in a news release.

Written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, Netflix film Roma was in the spotlight this year. It was nominated for 10 awards at the 2019 Academy Awards.

For those who have not watched it, the movie told the story of a housekeeper working for a middle-class family in Mexico between 1970 and 1971. 

Some in the industry have supported Spielberg, arguing that Netflix’s unique position as a massive streaming company gives it an unfair advantage over more traditional production companies.

For one, people argue that Netflix will pay to have a movie in theatres to get credit for being a theatrical release, even though it may only play in select theatres for a few weeks. At the same time, the company isn’t beholden to traditional theatrical standards like reporting on box office numbers or respecting the 90-day theatrical window. Further, Netflix is able to simultaneously release its movies in 90 countries at once and the content stays on its platform 24/7 unless it is removed.

But that’s not a big deal as the Academy will continue to investigate the emerging industry, according to Bailey.

“Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues,” he said.

This comes alongside changes in other categories. The Foreign Language Film award was changed to now become the International Feature Film award. Nominations in the Hair and Makeup category grew from three to five and Animated films will now be considered eligible if they are aired in New York City or Los Angeles.

Source: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences