Oscar 2007: Changes in Rules about Producers

June 13, 2007–Oscar is changing its rules about the number of producers allowed for best picture.
Every year, the governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences tweak their rules over eligibility. This year, after the furor over the number of eligible producers for “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Departed,” AMPAS reiterated that only “three or fewer producers who have performed the major portion of the producing functions” are eligible to be nominated for best picture.

But now there's an exception: The board approved the producers branch executive committee's recommendation that, in a rare and extraordinary circumstance, an additional qualified producer can be a nominee.

“The committee and the governors believe strongly that it's very important to have a limit on the number of producers who can be nominated and potentially receive an Oscar statuette,” said Academy president Sid Ganis. “But we also recognize that a truly unique situation could arise, and we want to have just enough flexibility to allow for that rare occurrence.”

In the Academy's early days, the studio took home the best-picture Oscar. That changed in 1951, when the producer was named in the noms and got the trophy. For decades, there were only a handful of producers on each film, but as the business changed, the tallies went up.

After five individuals went onstage to accept the best picture award for “Shakespeare in Love,” the Academy limited the number to three. While that limit affected such films as “Lord of the Rings,” “Crash” and “The Aviator,” the debate got more heated this year with “Sunshine” and “Departed,” which was the eventual winner.

In other rules news, an animation film was further defined in an age of constantly changing technologies. For Oscar consideration, animated films must run at least 70 minutes long, in which movement and characters' performances are created using frame-by-frame technique. Also, a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75% of the picture's running time.

In the art direction category, an exception now allows for two production designers or two set decorators to receive nominations for their work on a given film, but not both. In the past, the rule allowed for only one production designer, though two set decorators could be nominated in rare cases.

The Oscars are being held Feb. 24, 2008 at the Kodak Theatre. Nominations are announced on Tue Jan. 22.