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‘Hamilton’ Can’t Win Any Oscars But Has a Shot at the Emmys

Hamilton movie
Courtesy of Disney

Hamilton” won 11 Tonys, a Pulitzer and a Grammy, and the filmed version on Disney Plus was the talk of social media throughout July 4 weekend — but it won’t be headed to the Oscars.

Disney had planned a theatrical release in October 2021 before dropping it early on its streaming service, but that’s not enough to qualify it for Oscar consideration. Though eligibility rules were amended in April to allow films with planned theatrical releases to compete, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, “Recorded stage productions are not eligible for consideration.”

While “Give ‘em Hell, Harry,” a recording of the one-man stage play of the same name, earned an Oscar nomination for best actor for James Whitmore in 1976, the rules changed in 1997 when language was added to the documentary category that disqualified recorded stage performances.

Disney still has plenty to celebrate the release on Disney Plus.

The movie premiered on the Disney Plus streaming service on Friday, July 3. From Friday through Sunday, its app was downloaded 752,451 times globally, including 458,796 times in the U.S., according to Apptopia.

As of early May, Disney Plus had 54.5 million subscribers worldwide just six months after its launch. In the U.S., the streaming service costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

The “Hamilton” movie stars Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos and Phillipa Soo. It was directed by Thomas Kail.

Several performances of “Hamilton” stage musical were used for the film.

On the television awards front, “Hamilton” will indeed be eligible for Emmy consideration in 2021, but here’s the rub: It will have to enter in the outstanding variety special (pre-recorded) category, not the TV movie competition.

Per the TV Academy rules, “Programs exclusively originated for or derived/adapted from a medium other than television or broadband (e.g. taped concert tour performance, Broadway play, opera, night club act), and entertainment components of sports programs (e.g. halftime show) are eligible as appropriate in variety special (live) or variety special (pre-recorded).”

That unfortunately limits performer Emmys for “Hamilton,” despite the fact that it’s jam-packed with talented players on stage. In the case of “Hamilton,” it depends on who is credited as a producer, as well as who is considered the primary performer (presumably, Lin-Manuel Miranda). The Emmy rules state that “the principal host for variety series and the principal host/performer for variety specials are eligible to be entered with the program categories. Secondary performers are not eligible.”

“Hamilton” is known for its music, of course, and the Disney Plus presentation will indeed be able to compete in the outstanding music direction category, which is “for a single episode of a comedy, drama or variety series, movie, limited series, or special, whether it is variety, music or cultural programming.”

But it won’t be able to submit in the original music and lyrics fields, which is “limited to songs written expressly for, and first performed in a program during the current eligibility year.”

Other categories that “Hamilton” will be able to compete in are multiple crafts fields, as well as outstanding directing for a limited series, movie or dramatic special. (Unless Disney Plus decides to place it in the variety special directing category.)

Broadway adaptations on TV are fairly common, and have seen plenty of Emmy nominations and wins through the years — both through anthology series like “Great Performances” and “American Playhouse,” as well as specials such as “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” and “John Leguizamo’s Freak.” Last year, Netflix’s “Springsteen on Broadway” was nominated for outstanding variety special (pre-recorded), and outstanding directing for a variety special.

A Disney Plus spokesperson said the streamer hasn’t yet determined its 2021 Emmy plans.