Culture Crash: The Fate Of The Oscars


“For some listeners, this may seem like a bit of a nothing story, but to the film industry, which continues to exist in a holding pattern until theaters reopen and filming crews get the green light to resume working, it marks a significant departure from a historic institution that could potentially impact careers, budgets, and millions of dollars worth of revenue.”


As the COVID-19 pandemic leads to the cancellation or postponement of countless events, and unprecedented movie theater closures have led to the delay of entire months worth of releases, it was beginning to seem like next year’s 93rd Academy Awards might not even take place.

Well, the Academy put that question to bed… at least for now.. When it announced the awards ceremony is set to go on as planned on February 28, 2021, with a few rules tweaks.

Over the past few years, there has been some debate among the film community as to whether the Academy’s eligibility requirements are outdated, since they call for all nominated movies to have screened for at least 7 days in an L.A. County commercial movie theater. The rules have meant movies from streamers, such as Netflix’s Marriage Story and The Irishman, had to screen in at least a few theaters to qualify for the Oscars. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, though, the Academy said it will temporarily lift that requirement, and allow movies that were set for theatrical release but were pushed to a streaming-only debut due to the pandemic to qualify for awards consideration.

The Academy noted the exemption would no longer be extended once theaters reopened, but for the time being, the exemption marks a pretty sizeable change in the Oscars’ rules.

While the Academy continues to stress the importance of theatrical windows, this does serve as a test balloon of sorts for the kind of rule change that may be inevitable someday, pandemic or no pandemic.

For some listeners, this may seem like a bit of a nothing story, but to the film industry, which continues to exist in a holding pattern until theaters reopen and filming crews get the green light to resume working, it marks a significant departure from a historic institution that could potentially impact careers, budgets, and millions of dollars worth of revenue. Like everyone else right now, the Academy is attempting to adjust on the fly. But no one can say for sure what the ramifications of this move will be.

I’m Evan Rook.

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