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Oscars 2021: AMPAS Rules Streaming Films Eligible, Sound Categories Merge, and More


The Academy’s Board of Governors has now approved new regulations on the eligibility of films heading toward the 93rd Academy Awards®. In a press release Tuesday, AMPAS details the new rules pertaining to streaming films to be applied as a one-time occurrence for the 2021 Oscars.

The news breaks as the film industry continues to face the effects of COVID-19. As the pandemic clashes with entertainment productions and major studio releases, many have speculated what will happen with next year’s Oscars. AMPAS now announces a series of exemptions and regulations.

Streamed features are eligible

As the AMPAS rules were prior, a feature film is eligible at the Oscars if it screens in “a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for a theatrical qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily.”

The Academy announces a shift that allows films that had a previously planned theatrical release, as well as made available on VOD or commercial streaming, as eligible. The films must also meet all other eligibility requirements. Under the discretion of the Academy, and when Los Angeles County theaters reopen, these rules exemptions will no longer apply.


Oscar sound categories merge

The Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories are also combining into one. As a category that has been discussed and mulled over in recent years, the Academy now joins them into one award for Best Achievement in Sound. Within the Music (Original Score) category, a score is only eligible if it comprises a minimum of 60% original music. Moreover, an original score is eligible in sequels and franchise films if it contains 80% new music.

In regards to the International Feature Film category, all members of the Academy can vote on the category shortlisted selections. As states weigh reopening their theaters, AMPAS is also expanding the number of qualifying theaters to include venues in the City of New York; the Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia.

From the press release:

“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater. Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules. The Academy supports our members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty,” said Oscars Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.

The Academy also announces changes requiring no more physical DVD screeners after this awards season, as well as all screeners to have closed captioning. Rules brought on as a result of COVID-19 are subject to change as national guidelines inform the public and the industry. AMPAS will determine its best practices should things change.

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Written by Jessica Peña

Jessica Peña studied journalism at Volunteer State Community College before she began writing about film on a personal blog that sprouted from an electronic media course. She is now a film journalist for Awards Circuit, as well as a content editor and writer for the UK-based site JumpCut Online. She also loves the Child's Play/Chucky franchise with no end in sight.


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