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If you are a bit confused about if/where Disney+’s Hamilton, a filmed theatrical production that aired on TV, is eligible for recognition this awards season, you are not alone — so The Hollywood Reporter has gotten some answers for you.
First, the quick backstory. Hamilton was, of course, an unprecedented Broadway phenomenon during the 2015-2016 Broadway season — indeed, it so dominated the Tonys that #HamilTonys became a popular hashtag. Disney first got into business with Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda on the 2016 animated feature Moana, for which he received a best original song Oscar nomination for “How Far I’ll Go.”
And that relationship expanded when, in February 2020, following a bidding war between several distributors, Disney paid $75 million for the worldwide distribution rights of footage that the Hamilton team had captured — from three Broadway performances of the show given shortly before original cast members began departing it — and edited together with a few additional pickup shots.
Disney initially announced plans to release its version of Hamilton in movie theaters on Oct. 15, 2021 — but then, when the pandemic struck in March 2020, the studio decided to drop Hamilton on its new streaming platform, Disney+ (launched in November 2019), on July 3, 2020, the day before America’s 244th birthday.
Hamilton drew massive numbers on the service — mostly from people who had heard about but never had the chance to see the theatrical version due to financial or geographic limitations — and, with film critics reviewing it to the tune of a 98 percent rating on RottenTomatoes.com, Disney’s awards operation went to work.
There was some speculation that it might be Oscar-eligible, given that members of the film Academy previously bestowed acting nominations on several other productions that were essentially filmed plays: Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Joyce Redman and Frank Finlay for 1965’s Othello; James Whitmore for 1974’s Give ‘Em Hell, Harry, which was distributed by Theatre Television (after using nine cameras to capture a single performance of the show in front of an audience); and Maximilan Schell for 1975’s The Man in the Glass Booth, which was distributed by The American Film Theatre (although it was very slightly “opened up” from its stage version).
Indeed, there is no rule on the Academy’s books that would technically preclude Hamilton from competing for Oscar noms. The closest thing is a rule that was implemented in 1997 for the documentary features and documentary shorts categories: “Works that are essentially promotional or instructional are not eligible, nor are works that are essentially unfiltered records of performances.”
But nobody ever argued that Disney+’s Hamilton is a documentary. So, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed with the Academy, the Academy’s Awards Rules Committee, anticipating controversy if this project — comprised almost entirely of four-year-old content captured on a stage — was deemed Oscar-eligible, met to discuss the situation. And its members decided to disqualify Hamilton, citing Rule Two, Section G of the 93rd Academy Awards Rules, which states in part: “The Awards Rules Committee will evaluate all matters of rules and eligibility.” (You can be sure that the wording in the 94th Academy Awards Rules will address this sort of work more specifically.)
However, most other organizations that present film awards have no specific restrictions against filmed theater — at least for now — and have not made special provisions for Hamilton, so it remains eligible — and actually quite likely to receive some — recognition from them.
The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that for the Golden Globe Awards, Hamilton is eligible for best picture (musical or comedy); Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr. are eligible for best actor in a musical or comedy (Odom, Jr. is also eligible in the supporting actor and original song races for his work on One Night in Miami); and all other cast members with parts of any size are eligible in the supporting acting races.
For the SAG Awards, meanwhile, Hamilton is not being treated as a film, but rather as a TV movie, meaning it could show up in two categories: best actor in a TV movie or miniseries and best actress in a TV movie or miniseries. The SAG Awards does not separate lead and supporting performances, only genders, so here Miranda and Odom will have to duke it out with scene-stealers Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, et al., while Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Jasmine Cephas Jones and all of Hamilton‘s other female performers will also be up against one another, regardless of the size of their part(s).
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