Academy makes streamed films eligible for Oscars amid pandemic
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will permit films that originally debuted on streaming services and Video on Demand (VOD) to be eligible for Oscars this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, its board of governors decided Tuesday.

The board of governors approved the Oscars rule changes in a virtual meeting, citing how the pandemic has closed theaters across the country and specifically in Los Angeles County, where movies had been required to be shown to qualify. 

To be eligible, the films must be made available to the Academy Screening Room, the member-only streaming site, within 60 days of streaming or VOD release, as well as meeting all other eligibility requirements.

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“Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories for the 93rd Academy Awards,” the academy said in a release. 

The movies must also have been planned for a theatrical release before the theaters were closed. All releases after the theaters reopen will have to follow the previous rules, requiring a seven-day run in a theater with at least three shows daily.

Previously, the films had to be shown in at least one Los Angeles County theater, but this year, the Academy will allow theaters in New York, the Bay Area, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta to qualify.

The Academy also decided to combine the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories into one, reducing the number of awards to 23. 

Currently, there are no plans to cancel or move next year’s Oscars ceremony, set to air on Feb. 28.