Scoob and Trolls World Tour Scoob and Trolls World Tour

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Tuesday that films with a previously planned theatrical release that are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service will still qualify for the Oscars.

The temporary rule exemption is meant to address disruptions to theatrical exhibition caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The exemption will end when theaters reopen. At that point, films will be expected to follow the usual Oscar regulations, which require that a film be shown in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for a theatrical run of at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily.

This adjustment to the rules particularly benefits animated movies like Trolls World Tour and Scoob!, which have opted for VOD launches. They are now assured of being considered for the Oscars for all the categories in which they would normally qualify.

In a statement, Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said:

“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater. Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering. Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules. The Academy supports our members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty. We recognize the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever.”

For films to more easily meet theatrical exhibition requirements when theaters reopen, the Academy also will expand the number of qualifying theaters beyond Los Angeles County to include venues in additional U.S. metropolitan areas: the City of New York; the Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia.

A rule exemption has also been made for Oscar-qualifying film festivals that have had to go virtual due to the pandemic. This rule change should be noted for filmmakers who aim to compete this year in the Academy’s best animated short category:

Film festivals that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may provide films online through either a transactional pay wall or password-protected entry, which will not affect the films’ eligibility for future Academy Awards qualification. The Academy will allow an exemption for those films that are released online through an impacted festival’s online platform, provided that proof of inclusion in the festival is submitted. With these provisions, films will be expected to comply with all other eligibility requirements for the 93rd Academy Awards.

The 93rd Oscars are currently scheduled to take place Sunday, February 28, 2021, in Hollywood, California.

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