SAG Awards Considering Changes to Film Eligibility Rules and Screening Q&As

SAG Awards Placeholder
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There may be some changes in store for the 2021 SAG Awards because of the coronavirus pandemic.

SAG hosted its annual spring meeting for about 120 film executives and awards consultants on Tuesday to discuss awards season and the 27th annual ceremony, which is set to take place on Jan. 24.

SAG is considering changing eligibility rules in light of theater closures. SAG Awards executive producer Kathy Connell confirmed to Variety that the guild is mulling over “allowing films to stream before a qualifying run.”

“In light of everything going on in the world right now, we are considering a number of options — among them allowing films to stream before a qualifying run,” Connell said. “At this time everything is in discussion and nothing is final.”

With the future unknown, SAG reps said they haven’t made any final decisions. For instance, if theaters open after a film premieres on a streaming service or on video-on-demand, will SAG mandate that the film have a theatrical run to still qualify?

Current regulations state that films must first be publicly exhibited before a paying audience in a commercial motion picture house in Los Angeles County for at least a seven-day consecutive run commencing in the calendar year 2020. Also, non-theatrical public exhibition or distribution cannot occur prior to the first day of the L.A. County qualifying run. SAG does allow films with a day-and-date release in theaters and on VOD, or other new media platform, to qualify.

SAG reps also discussed the future of its screenings and Q&As, which are considered instrumental during awards campaigning.

If social distancing is still the norm as awards season ramps up, SAG is considering virtual Q&As. But again, SAG reps insisted no concrete plans have been made.

While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has not announced any changes for next year’s Oscars, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association said in March that it was loosening its Golden Globes eligibility rules for films, allowing contenders to be screened more readily via screening links rather than in theaters.