The Academy Officially Changes Oscar Rules Due to Coronavirus: Streaming Movies Are Eligible!

Joaquin Phoenix, Renee Zellweger, Brad Pitt
Getty Images

VOD is A-OK in 2021.

Awards season 2021 hasn't been canceled due to the coronavirus, but it might feel a little different. And the Oscars just announced some major rule changes in response to the ongoing pandemic.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Wednesday amendments to the rules and campaign regulations for the 93rd annual awards ceremony, officially allowing for streamed films to be eligible "for this awards year only."

"Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories for the 93rd Academy Awards," the board said in a statement, in response to new films debuting via streaming amid theater closures.

Traditionally, a film must screen in a commercial movie theater in L.A. for a qualifying run of at least one week -- a mandate that will be reinstated once theaters reopen. "The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater," Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson add. "Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering."

Alongside the changes due to COVID-19, the Academy announced a number of other changes for 2021: Notably, there will henceforth be one sound category ("Best Achievement in Sound") combining editing and mixing.

The Academy's eligibility adjustments come after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made similar changes for next year's Golden Globes. The date for the 93rd Oscars -- set for Feb. 28, 2021 -- remains unchanged.