Academy drops pandemic-era Oscars qualification rules 'as theaters have reopened'

·3 min read
Academy drops pandemic-era Oscars qualification rules 'as theaters have reopened'

The Academy has shifted its Oscars qualification rules for movies as theaters continue to reopen through the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Academy's board recently approved new rules and campaign regulations, the group announced Wednesday, with most changes being made to eligibility standards that temporarily changed amid theatrical closures throughout the outbreak.

First, the eligibility period for releases has been shortened to one full calendar year, with only movies theatrically released between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022 able to enter the upcoming Oscar race. The Academy Screening Room — AMPAS' digital platform — will also no longer be a "method of qualification, as theaters have reopened," per an Academy release.

The Academy will stick to Los Angeles County, the city of New York, the Bay Area, Chicago, Miami, and Atlanta as zones that meet its theatrical release qualification standards.

Eugenio Derbez, Sian Heder, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Emilia Jones, Daniel Durant and Amy Forsyth, winners of the Best Picture award for ‘CODA’, pose in the press room at the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California.
Eugenio Derbez, Sian Heder, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Emilia Jones, Daniel Durant and Amy Forsyth, winners of the Best Picture award for ‘CODA’, pose in the press room at the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California.

David Livingston/Getty Images 'CODA' wins Best Picture at the 2022 Oscars.

Other changes include renaming Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary (Short Subject) to Best Documentary Feature Film and Best Documentary Short Film, respectively, as well as a new three-number limit on the number of songs from a single film that can be submitted to Best Original Song. Sound contenders will also be required to make their films available for viewing by that branch's members.

According to new campaign rules, "access to the Academy Screening Room will continue to be made available for all eligible releases," the Academy noted. "Digital links to materials will be permitted under certain circumstances. Film synopses may no longer contain credits, as film companies will now have the option to include credits on the Academy Screening Room prior to Nominations."

The news comes days after the Academy announced the 95th Oscars ceremony would move up two weeks to March 12, 2023. Last week, EW also obtained an internal survey distributed by AMPAS' president, David Rubin, which polled voters on the 2022 telecast and pressed them to provide feedback in order to "add their voice, engage with the Academy, and support its mission."

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith at the Oscars after the latter slapped Chris Rock

Questions in the survey prompted reactions to the implemented #OscarsFanFavorite audience-voted award for popular films and movie moments, as well as the Academy's controversial decision to pre-tape the presentation of eight technical categories and re-edit them into March's live broadcast.

This year, the Oscars received favorable reaction from viewers and critics, thanks to warmly-received hosts Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes, and Amy Schumer, as well as CODA's Best Picture victory. Will Smith, however, made major headlines out of this year's Oscars when the King Richard star approached presenter Chris Rock on stage and slapped him after the comedian joked about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Smith, who went on to win Best Actor, was later banned from attending Academy events — including the Oscars — for the next decade.

Keep up with the ever-changing slate of 2022-2023 awards season dates, and read our early projections for the 2023 Oscars.

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