The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made some big announcements Tuesday regarding the 2021 Oscars, but insiders say they probably won’t have too much impact on today’s awards business.
“I wasn’t surprised by anything,” one awards consultant said. “I had a feeling most of this was coming.”
Getting the most traction is the temporary rule change that films will no longer be required to have a seven-day theatrical run in Los Angeles County to be eligible for Oscar consideration. With theaters closed under a state mandate in California, the Academy’s board of governors voted to allow films with digital releases to enter the Oscar race.
“It makes total sense,” a studio executive said. “These distributors were put in a precarious financial place by the closure of cinemas. Some of them had to move to VOD to sustain. It’s only fair that while theaters are closed and assuming their plans were underway that they have the chance to qualify.”
If you think that means Netflix will put every single of its films up for Oscar gold, it’s not going work like that. Studios have to show that the film they are releasing via a streaming service or by VOD also had a planned theatrical release. In other words, the Olivia Munn rom-com “Love Wedding Repeat” will not be up for best pic, and Chris Hemsworth won’t be suddenly thrown on the campaign trail for a best actor nod for “Extraction.”
Will Netflix’s upcoming prestige films like Ron Howard’s adaptation of “Hillbilly Elegy” or David Fincher’s “Mank,” about the making of “Citizen Kane,” try to make it to the Dolby in February? Definitely, but the streamer still has to worry that they’ll be finished in time, just not for a theatrical release like last year’s “Marriage Story” and “The Irishman.”
“Netflix can submit everything they have, but so what?” a consultant said. “Remember the bar for qualification was just one week in one Los Angeles theater. That’s not a very high bar. The point is anything that Netflix wanted to qualify in the past, they’ll qualify. They’re not going to suddenly change because of this.”
Universal’s “Trolls: World Tour” will now be able to see its original songs in the running because the animated musical film was slated to open wide before the studio gave it a VOD release due to coronavirus.
“None of us have crystal balls,” the consultant said. “It will be what it will be. Who knows? Nobody has any idea of what is going to happen. Either life is back to normal by the fall or the Academy will have to make even more adjustments.”
As Academy president David Rubin told Variety after the rule changes were announced, “We have to remain fluid. It would great to issue proclamations, but this is not the time for proclamations. It’s time to be responsive.”