Oscar 2011: New Campaign Regulations: Who Will Implement Them?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced new rules governing the marketing of Oscar contenders, banning Academy members and nominees from certain non-screening events after nominations and adding social media to the realm of restricted speech — while at the same time removing obstacles to screenings with filmmakers’ live participation.

These campaign regulations play an important role in protecting the integrity of the Academy Awards process and the distinction of the Oscar,” said Academy President Tom Sherak. “Above all, we want Academy members to see movies as they were meant to be seen, in a theatrical setting.”

Perhaps to that end, voters will be allowed to attend screenings hosted specifically for Academy members with panels and filmmaker Q&A — as well as catered receptions — so long as they take place before the nominations. In the past, filmmakers and cast were forbidden (as were receptions with food and drink) at any screening held for voters, no matter the time of year.

However, any individual filmmaker will only be allowed to appear at two Academy screenings after nominations, which will be announced January 24, 2012.

This will also be the first year that studios will be allowed to digitally distribute screeners to Academy members, provided those copies comply with established rules for discs.

But perhaps the most pointed change was directed at parties: From nominations to the close of polls, both Academy members and nominees are nixed from any non-screening event that “promotes or honors a nominated movie or individual nominee.”

That rule would presumably have applied to several high-profile events held last year (though not Sony’s “Social Network” DVD-release party at Spago, which was well-attended by filmmakers and cast but took place before the nominations). The only exceptions: Academy-sanctioned events and awards ceremonies presented by various orgs like guilds and critics’ associations.

And add social media to the list of places where both bad-mouthing and tubthumping are, as they’ve always been, verboten. Specific penalties include a one-year suspension for first-time violations and expulsion for subsequent violations for members.

Oscar’s new rules

Among the new campaign rules are crackdowns on receptions and negative campaigning.

Screenings

Prior nominations, screenings presented by or funded by film companies may be followed by a Q&A session by persons associated with the film. Such screenings may be preceded or followed by a reception that includes food and beverage. After nominations are announced, any one person associated with a film, nominee or not, may not participate in more than two screenings that include Q&A sessions. Additionally, during this time period, screenings of nominated films (with or without Q&A sessions) may not include food and/or beverage.

After nominations are announced, no Academy member may be listed as a “host” of a screening in any way unless that member is directly associated with the film.

Screeners

Screeners may also be distributed to members digitally, via download or streaming, so long as the delivery of those motion pictures conforms to all other provisions of these Regulations

Music

Before nominations are announced, CDs of eligible scores may be sent to members of the Music Branch only. No CDs of songs may be sent to any Academy member before nominations are announced. After nominations are announced, CDs of nominated scores and songs may be sent to any Academy member.

Non-Screening Events

After nominations are announced, no member may be invited to or attend any event, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, parties and receptions, that in any way promotes or honors a nominated film, a nominee, or is attended by a nominee or anyone with a direct association with a nominated film, except as permitted under Rule 1. These regulations apply to nominees as well as Academy members, and nominees are similarly prohibited from attending such events.

Excluded from this prohibition are sanctioned events and awards ceremonies presented by the various guilds, critics groups and other organizations.

References to Other Nominees.

Ads, mailings, websites, social media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) or any other forms of public communication by anyone directly associated with an eligible film attempting to promote a particular film or achievement by casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film or achievement will not be tolerated. In particular, any tactic that singles out “the competition” by name or title is expressly forbidden. Academy members that violate this Rule 16 will be subject to a one-year suspension of membership for first-time violations, and expulsion for any subsequent violations.

Complete rules can be found at the Academy’s website