Film Academy Launches Revamped Streaming Service for Members to Watch Best Picture Contenders (Exclusive)

Eight titles from four distributors were immediately posted to the service, with many more expected in the coming weeks.
Courtesy of El Deseo
'Pain and Glory'

Academy members: fire up your high-speed Internet connections!

On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences launched a new and improved streaming platform through which its members will now be able to watch many of Oscar hopefuls.

In recent years, international features, shorts and select other titles were posted to the Academy's members-only website. But now, for the first time, members will be able to stream films under consideration for best picture, too — if those films' distributors are interested in spending $12,500 per title to make them available there — and not only on the members-only website, but via an Apple TV and Apple TV 4k app called Academy Screening Room, where they can log in with their member username and password.

Eight titles from four distributors are currently posted: After the Wedding (Sony Classics), Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix), Downton Abbey (Focus), Frankie (Sony Classics), Judy (Roadside Attractions), The Mustang (Focus), Pain and Glory (Sony Classics) and The Peanut Butter Falcon (Roadside Attractions). Many others are expected soon.

The Academy fast-tracked the development of the streaming platform when it began adding unprecedented numbers of new members based outside the United States. Academy insiders figured that such a portal might serve as a less expensive and more efficient — not to mention environmentally friendly — way of connecting members with films than the traditional DVD screeners that have piled up in members' mailboxes for some 30 award seasons.

For now, distributors still have the option of mailing DVD screeners to members, either instead of or in addition to streaming their films — though screeners must now be sent through one of several preapproved third-party mailing houses, with the Academy collecting a middleman fee. This season's first screeners intended for the entire membership began arriving in mailboxes on Oct. 18.

In Wednesday's missive to the roughly 8,000 members of the Academy, more than a few of whom are not especially tech-literate, the Academy offered reassurance that it will continue to host theatrical screenings of contenders for its members in Los Angeles, New York, the Bay Area and London. And, as it has done ever since hard-copy screeners first hit the scene, it emphasized that its preference is for members to see films on the big screen whenever possible.

The text of the email, which came under the subject line "Watch Now," appears below.

* * *

Dear [Member],

We are pleased to announce the expansion of the Academy’s streaming platform - Academy Screening Room - which will include films under consideration for the Best Picture category, including all of the achievements within a feature film. Our streaming platform will provide greater access to movies in consideration to our growing global membership, while taking positive steps toward a greener, more environmentally friendly future.

We encourage you to view as many films as possible during their theatrical release and at additional theatrical screenings made available. The Academy will continue to host member screenings in Los Angeles, New York, the Bay Area and London (schedule can be found at www.oscars.org/screenings).

If you’re unable to make it to a theater, streaming is available through members.oscars.org.

From the member homepage, look for "Online Streaming" under the Screenings tab.

You can also access via the Academy Screening Room link. Once you enter your member username and password, it will direct you to the streaming page.

For the best viewing experience, use the latest version of Safari or Chrome browsers.

While there may be just a handful of streaming titles accessible at this point, more will be added in the coming weeks as distributors make them available. This is only the beginning.

If you would like to receive notifications for digital and/or DVD screeners (DVD screeners continue to be an option) from distributors as movies are made available, please Update Your Preferences.

In addition to the member site, the Academy is now offering the option to stream films via a new 4th generation Apple TV and Apple TV 4k app called Academy Screening Room.

If you have a 4th generation Apple TV or an Apple TV 4k, you can install the Academy Screening Room app from the App Store, then enter your Academy member username and password to access. Click here for more information on streaming, the new Apple TV 4 app and answers to technical questions you may have.

For technical support, please contact the Academy’s Support office at 855-742-9140 or email support@oscars.org.

The Oscars will be held on February 9 (two weeks earlier than last year). Let’s start watching now.