LOS ANGELES, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Movies will no longer be required to have a seven-day theatrical run in Los Angeles County to be eligible for Oscars consideration due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday.
The relaxed rule, which applies until theaters in the United States reopen, will grant films that are available only on Netflix or other streaming platforms a chance to collect a gold statue.
The move was made in response to the mass closures of movie cinemas that has prevented many films from being shown in theaters. COVID-19, while sending shockwaves through Hollywood, also pave the way for streamers to storm the Oscars.
Prior to this announcement, only films that had screened for a minimum of seven days in Los Angeles theaters were eligible for any Oscar award categories, from Best Picture to technical and short categories.
"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," Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson asserted in a statement.
"Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules."
The Oscars' traditional rules have previously created tension between Hollywood film purists such as Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, who want to preserve the sanctity of film, and the young itching to live in a digital-only universe.
After much arm-twisting, Netflix last year reluctantly agreed to screen Martin Scorsese's gangster epic "The Irishman" in theaters for a short run to squeak through for Oscar contention. And if not for the plucky Korean upstart "Parasite," that strategy might well have paid off with a Best Picture and Best Director sweep at the 2020 Oscars.
The current exemption will expire when theaters reopen. With that ticking clock, streamers are likely to want to spare themselves the added expense of a theatrical run.
Due to this exemption, they can do this now by simply moving up the release schedules of as many of their high profile, online-only films as they can to debut during this short May to August window, when theaters are likely to remain off limits due to the stay-at-home and social distancing orders still in place.
When theaters do reopen, there will be a mad scramble for opening dates, which will inevitably make opening time slots in a qualifying theater hot property.
To address this problem, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences intends to expand qualifying screening venues to beyond the usual Los Angeles radius to include theaters in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Miami.