The Academy Awards are not changing course due to the coronavirus. The 93rd annual ceremony is set for February 28, 2021, and it hasn’t changed. For the time being.
The governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences met via videoconference Tuesday to both evaluate the 2019–2020 awards season and determine what changes needed to be made as a result of the global pandemic. Apart from adjusting eligibility requirements for movies that no longer have the option of playing on a big screen, the Academy leadership maintained its key dates and plans for the next season.
Academy rules previously stipulated that a film must have at least a seven-day theatrical run in the Los Angeles area to qualify for the Oscars.
For right now only, the Academy is waiving the theatrical-run obligation. It’s a temporary change that will expire once quarantine rules allow theaters to reopen, as Academy leaders say they remain otherwise committed to keeping movies in movie theaters. The Academy plans to then reinstate its previous policy.
That doesn’t mean every YouTube video or TikTok will now qualify. Films must still meet a series of other qualifying rules aimed at keeping the attention on worthy projects. One of the new rules is that the film “must be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD release,” the Academy said in a statement.
Even when theaters reopen, the Academy will further adjust its rules so that eligible movies don’t have to only screen in Los Angeles, allowing for screening runs in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Miami, and Atlanta.
In news unrelated to the coronavirus, the organization is also merging the sound-editing and sound-mixing prizes into one award, at the behest of the Academy’s sound branch, which felt that evolving technology has already blurred the lines between editing (creating the sounds) and mixing (blending them onscreen).
Essentially, the same artists will still be nominated, but now it will be within a single award—much like art directors and set decorators share the best-production-design category.