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On Wednesday — a day after the Directors Guild of America announced that, with the worst of the pandemic apparently in the rearview mirror, it will no longer consider day-and-date releases for the top prize at its next DGA Awards — the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it would continue to consider day-and-date releases for the Oscars, provided they are made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member site within 60 days of the film’s streaming/VOD release or broadcast.
This policy, as well as other rules and campaign regulations for the 94th Academy Awards season, were approved by the Academy’s board of governors on Wednesday, May 26 — and may force either the DGA or, say, WarnerMedia, to reconsider their currently stated plans for the season.
The DGA could rescind its rule to align its requirements with the Oscars’ requirements. But, more likely, WarnerMedia, should it wish for its films to be eligible for the top DGA Award, will not be able to go through with WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar‘s edict to simultaneously release all 2021 films simultaneously in theaters, via Warner Bros., and on streaming, via HBOMax, without first giving them a one-week, four-walled release in New York or Los Angeles.
The Academy also announced that, because COVID impacted theatrical exhibition for a portion of this year, it will, like last year, allow films to qualify for Oscar eligibility — for general entry categories as well as documentary and short film categories — by screening in one of six U.S. metropolitan areas, rather than just New York or LA: Los Angeles County; the City of New York; the Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia.
Another COVID-era rule change will remain in effect. All Academy members who wish to participate in the preliminary and nomination rounds of voting for the international feature film category will continue to be able to do so, and the shortlist itself will remain at 15, up from 10.
Additionally, the shortlists for the shorts categories — best animated short, best documentary short and best live action short — are being expanded from 10 to 15.
And a new shortlist is being introduced for the sound category. There will now be a preliminary round of voting by the sound branch to determine a shortlist of 10 films, and shortlistees will be invited to make a presentation for branch members prior to nomination voting. (Similar “bakeoffs” occur for the visual effects and makeup and hairstyling categories.)
Two changes will impact music categories. To be eligible for best original score, a film’s score must now be comprised of just 35 percent original music, down from 60 percent. (The higher bar led to the disqualification of scores like Birdman and Green Book.) And no more than five tunes from any one film may be submitted for best original song.
The biggest rule changes, though, were first announced months ago: 1)There will now be a fixed 10 best picture nominees, as opposed to a number somewhere between five and 10; and 2) The mailing to members of DVDs, CDs and physical screenplays is now verboten.
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