Oscar 2019: Academy Does Not Change Eligibility Rules

April 23, 2019–The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will not change eligibility rules for the Oscars, despite speculation that streaming companies, like Netflix and Amazon, might see a crackdown on their release practices when pursuing golden trophies.

A board of governors meeting on Tuesday voted to maintain the status quo, that any feature-length film can be considered for the Academy Award as long as it has a seven-day run, with three public screenings per day, in Los Angeles. Films can hit alternative release platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime on or after the first day of a run and remain eligible.

“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” Academy President John Bailey said in a statement. “Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration.”

The board would “further study the profound changes occurring in our industry.” Not unlike the change that inspired rampant rumors that tonight’s board meeting would be a screaming match between the filmmaking establishment and the deep-pocketed streamers.

Take Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” a Spanish-language film shot entirely in black and white, which won three Oscars this year including best director. Financed and distributed by Netflix, the film received a three-week exclusive theatrical run before it was available on the streaming service. This move did not appease the national theater chains (AMC, Regal, CineMark), who demand 90 days of exclusivity before films hit home entertainment and paid video on demand.

There were rumors that director Steven Spielberg was concerned about preserving the national pastime of going to the movies and signaled he would ask the board (as member of the Directors branch) to revisit considering films that do not offer significant releases in theaters.

Spielberg never elaborated on comments made through a spokesperson, but it created panic over the potential consequences, given the efforts Netflix and Amazon have made in the past year to bolster their awards teams and lure top talent from the studios. Spielberg’s fellow mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg came to his to the defense. It got the Department of Justice riled up over possible anticompetitive agreements.

The fact is that the rule goes unchanged!