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Eligibility rules for 2021 Oscars tweaked, two categories combined

The Academy is making temporary changes during the Covid-19 pandemic, is combining the sound categories, and banning the DVD screeners that are popular amongst voters.

A general view of the Dolby Theatre, home of the Oscars on Hollywood Blvd after Los Angeles ordered the closure of all non-essential services and entertainment venues earlier this week and hours before the ‘Safer at Home’ emergency order was issued by L.A. authorities amid the ongoing threat of the coronavirus outbreak on March 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced several changes to requirements for the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021. If you are planning on betting on the Oscars next spring, this is important information to know!

A.M.P.A.S. has always required that for a movie to be eligible for an Oscar, it must run for at least seven days in an actual theater in Los Angeles County. It’s one of the reasons why Netflix-only films such as The Irishman or Marriage Story still have premieres and red carpets — they can’t win the the statuette without being on the big screen for at least a week.

But that requirement is now temporarily changed thanks to a new rule due to the Covid-19 pandemic: films that had a planned theatrical release that can now only be released digitally to comply with social distancing measures will still be eligible to compete.

“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. 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,” said Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.

Also when theaters re-open, theaters in City of New York; the Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia will be able to host films temporarily instead of just LA.

But one of the bigger changes is to the sound categories, where the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing Oscars, have been combined into one award, which will be for Best Achievement in Sound. Up to six statuettes can be awarded, but will be for the team working on one film only. Get your all-star crew together, Foley artists!

And finally this will be the last year where DVD screeners will be permitted to be mailed to voters by movie studios. The Academy has its own internal streaming platform now that is accessible to members, and studios can list films there for a small fee.