The Oscars will be making a one-time-only concession in their eligibility rules, as they will allow movies initially released through streaming or video-on-demand to compete in next year’s awards.

The board of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences which presides over the Academy Awards made the decision, along with a few other changes to the process, including the consolidation of sound editing and sound mixing into a single ‘sound’ category.

Citing the forced closure of theatres because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the board also noted that only films with a ‘previously planned theatrical release’ would be eligible. Up to this point, films were required to have at least one week’s worth of theatrical run to qualify for consideration.


Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement that the organization’s commitment to the theatrical experience is ‘unchanged and unwavering’. In previous years, the board has faced pressure to relax its streaming-related rules. Netflix, in particular, has pushed for in inclusion in the awards competition.

Among other high-profile Academy members, Steven Spielberg has been known to speak out about maintaining a certain distinction between streaming and theatrical releases.

Next year’s ceremony for the 93rd annual Academy Awards is set to take place on 28th February but the board has mentioned that additional changes might be required as we approach that date, ‘based on national guidelines, state-mandated government orders and Academy-determined best practices’.

Given this year’s low ratings for the famed ceremony, the board has approved a few more procedural changes—among them allowing all members to vote in the International Film category, previously known as Best Foreign-Language film.

The Academy also announced that the current award season is to be the last in which studios may distribute DVD screeners to voters. Citing environmental reasons, distribution of screeners will shift to digital as of 2021.