AMPAS alters docu rules

Changes take effect for 81st awards

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Tuesday issued streamlined Oscar-consideration rules by eliminating multicity requirements for the theatrical rollout of documentaries.

The changes to Oscar-consideration rules take effect with the 81st Academy Awards -- the ones following the current 80th Academy Awards program.

The changes were recommended by the documentary branch and approved by the Academy board of governors.

Under the new rules, docu features must run for a minimum of seven days in both Los Angeles County and the borough of Manhattan, and docu short subjects must run for a minimum of seven days in either Los Angeles County or Manhattan.

"By eliminating the multicity rollout requirements we have significantly simplified the Academy rules while still retaining the core intent to ensure that we honor nonfiction work created for theatrical distribution," said Michael Apted, chair of the Academy's docu branch exec committee. "We believe the new rules will successfully eliminate from consideration documentaries made principally for television, the Internet or anywhere else."

The seven-day runs must include at least two screenings per day, and those screenings must begin between noon and 10 p.m. The picture must be exhibited for paid admission and the film must be advertised and listed during its run in local newspapers or magazines.

For the 80th Academy Awards now under way, docu features were required to be screened in theaters for a minimum of 14 exhibitions in 10 states and docu short subjects for single exhibitions in at least four cities. Those rollouts were in addition to seven-day qualifying runs in either Los Angeles County or Manhattan.

Under another change in the docu rules, those whose films reach the semifinal round of voting no longer will be required to provide two film prints to the Academy for use if they are subsequently selected as nominees. The 81st Awards rules will allow the two copies to be submitted either on film or in digital format.