Oscar Eligibility Rules: Trickier Than Tax Code?

Merrick Morton/Columbia Tristar
"The Social Network" has more than three credited producers, meaning some will have to be omitted if the film is nominated for best picture.

Limiting the number of producers named on nominated films has proved controversial.

Film editor Jeff Malmberg wasn’t thinking about awards during the four years it took him to make his documentary Marwencol. But as it racked up multiple honors this season, it seemed only logical that it be submitted for Oscar consideration. Then Malmberg saw the eligibility rules.

With its October release, Marwencol wouldn’t be eligible to receive a documentary feature Oscar until 2012 because a film must have had commercial theatrical runs in Los Angeles and Manhattan of seven days or longer between Sept. 1, 2009-Aug. 31, 2010 to be eligible for the 2011 ceremony.

The Academy has made significant adjustments during recent years, including restricting the number of producers eligible in the category to three per film since 1999.

But many producers have bristled over the arbitrary nature of the limit, and the Academy added a clause allowing a fourth producer to be honored in “a rare and extraordinary circumstance.”

This year, there are several films in contention for best picture with more than three credited producers, including The Social Network and The Fighter.

Animated features have only had their own, separate award since 2001, and the category remains provisional. If eight to 15 animated features are released during the calendar year, a maximum of three films may be nominated. If 16 or more are submitted and accepted in the category, the maximum number of noms is five. This year’s awards had the potential for five noms, but the 16th film, Yogi Bear, was rejected because the Academy determined that it did not satisfy the requirement that “animation … figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture’s running time.”