With most movie theaters back open for business, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a reversion to pre-pandemic Oscar eligibility rules Wednesday, requiring films to debut in theaters — not on a streaming service — to qualify for award consideration.
“Films that, in any version, receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release will not be eligible for Academy Awards in any category,” according to the rules posted by the Academy Tuesday.
The requirement specifically eliminates films that debut on broadcast or cable television, pay-per-view or video-on-demand, DVD, online or “inflight airline.” However, the rules note that films released in such non-theatrical formats “on or after the first day of their theatrical qualifying run remain eligible.”
Instead, films must debut and make a qualifying seven-day run in either Los Angeles County, New York City, the Bay Area, Chicago, Miami or Atlanta. During the pandemic, films could also qualify by being made available to Academy members in an Academy Screening Room, but that possibility was eliminated.
The Academy also reverted the eligibility period to match the calendar year, meaning films must be released between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of this year to qualify for the 95th Academy Awards. The eligibility timeline shifted during the pandemic in response to changing COVID conditions.
Several other rule changes were also announced, including one that limits films to no more than three submissions in the original song category. Films in the sound category must be made available for viewing by members of the Academy Sound Branch.
The Academy also tweaked the names of the two documentary categories to Documentary Feature Film and Documentary Short Film. They were previously dubbed Documentary (Feature) and Documentary (Short Subject).
Nominations will be announced Jan. 24.