“The Academy is focused on helping our staff, our members, and the industry safely navigate through this global health and economic crisis,” an Academy spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday. “We are in the process of evaluating all aspects of this uncertain landscape and what changes may need to be made. We are committed to being nimble and forward-thinking as we discuss what is best for the future of the industry and will make further announcements in the coming days.”
As studios have decided that some of their films will premiere on digital platforms rather than in theaters, the question being raised is if the Academy will offer some sort of waiver for Oscar qualification.
The current rule states that a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical release in a Los Angeles County commercial theater. A film premiering on digital and in a theater at the same time is still eligible, but it’s disqualified if it only premieres on digital.
“Feature films that receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release are not eligible for Academy Awards in any category,” reads a story on the Academy’s website about the 2020 Oscars.
One of the first tests for the Academy may be “Trolls World Tour.” Universal’s announced that the film will be available on home entertainment on April 10, the day it was scheduled to hit theaters. But if no theaters are open at that time, the current rule for the Oscars would remove it from eligibility.
The DreamWorks Animation film is a follow-up to 2016’s “Trolls,” which earned an original song nomination for Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Shellback’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”
Universal is not only expecting to campaign the movie for animated feature, but there are several tunes that could be in the original song race, including “Just Sing,” an anthem performed by Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige, Anthony Ramos and others from the star-studded cast.
It is unclear if the Academy is making contingency plans in the case of the Oscars having to be postponed or canceled. The 93rd Oscars are set for Feb. 28, 2021.
On March 11, the Academy sent a letter to its members that the organization and the Academy Museum had “decided to postpone all screenings, events, tours, public programs and public access to our library and archive, effective immediately, and through the month of March.”