Oscars Allowing Drive-In Theaters to Count Towards Film Eligibility

A new meeting of the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was held this week and a new ruling was made about how films can go about gaining eligibility for awards consideration at the next Oscars. The coronavirus pandemic has forced AMPAS to change their approach for this year as theatrical exhibition is almost non-existent in some parts of the country (indoor movie theaters remain closed in LA for example), removing the previously required week long engagement in Los Angeles. It was previously announced that films could still qualify for awards if they premiered on streaming, provided they had a previously set release date for a theatrical exhibition, and now they've made another change.

The latest addendum clarifies the Academy's stance on streaming debuts, noting they must become available on the secure Academy Screening Room member site within 60 days of the film’s streaming/VOD release. In addition they've announced that films can still qualify with the "traditional theatrical release" as long as it completes a seven-day run in one of six qualifying cities (LA, New York, Bay Area, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta), playing three times a day; but the big update this time is that films playing in drive-in theaters rather than indoor theaters can now qualify as being theatrical releases. Films playing in drive-ins for their qualifying run only need to play once a day.

In a statement, AMPAS wrote (H/T TheWrap): "With the gradual re-opening of theaters, an addendum was added to clarify the two methods for qualification in the Best Picture and general entry categories moving forward through the end of this exceptional awards year."

Originally set for February 28th, the 93rd Academy Awards have already been postponed until April 25, 2021. This will allow the window of competition to be extended, making the field of entries even bigger. Though typically the eligibility window runs from January to December, this year's awards will honor films released from January 1, 2020 through February 28, 2021.

Though plenty of awards worthy movies have been released on streaming services or will be released on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu in the near future, man film fans have wondered what this year's Oscars might look like. Fans flocked to social media after reports of a postponement first began to circulate, jokingly speculating that The Academy was considering it to prevent a sweep in all categories by early 2020 releases like Trolls World Tour and Birds of Prey.