Coronavirus changes Oscars rules, but only for next year’s Academy Awards

In this Feb. 4, 2019 file photo, an Oscar statue appears at the 91st Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif. Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File)

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced some major changes to the Oscars, but for next year only.

First and foremost, films available through commercial streaming or video on demand (VOD) services will be eligible to qualify in the best picture, general entry and all other specialty award categories at the 2021 Academy Awards, according to an official statement issued by the academy’s board of governors on Tuesday afternoon.

“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 statement read.

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This exception, however, requires that all on-demand films up for consideration not only meet all other eligibility requirements but also be available through the academy’s members-only streaming site (Screening Room) within 60 days of their official online release.

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Typically, it is required that a film must be shown in at least one commercial movie theatre in Los Angeles for a minimum of seven consecutive days with three screenings daily in order to be eligible.

However, because of the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, cinemas in Los Angeles and across the globe have been shut down.

“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater. Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering. Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules,” academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson wrote in a joint statement.

“The Academy supports our members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty. We recognize the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever.”

On a yet-to-be-determined date, in accordance with federal and state government policies, the academy will no longer allow streamed films to be eligible for the Oscars once movie theatres across L.A. and the rest of the U.S. begin to re-open.

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Secondly, the academy has made some controversial adjustments to some of its sound, music and international feature film categories, including the merging of sound mixing and sound editing.

On top of that, in order to be eligible for the original score award, scores must be comprised of at least 60 per cent original music. Sequels and franchises will up this number to 80 per cent.

Here’s what some film buffs had to say about the alterations:

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The 93rd annual Academy Awards ceremony is currently scheduled to take place on Feb. 28, 2021.

For additional information on next year’s broadcast you can visit the official Oscars website.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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