Oscars 2021: Films that screen at drive-in cinemas will be eligible for Academy Awards

The news forms part of wider changes made to the rules for next year's ceremony

(FILES) February 23, 2013 file photo shows Oscar statues are viewed in preparation one day before the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California.  The Oscars will, for the first time, hold a concert in Los Angeles featuring the songs and scores nominated for Hollywood's most prestigious prize, organizers said.  The concert will be held on February 27, 2014, at Royce Hall, at the University of California in Los Angeles, or UCLA, said the governors of the music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in an internal email obtained by AFP July 12, 2013.     AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / FILES

In a year marked by disruption, the body behind the Oscars has made further changes to which films can qualify for the prestigious gilded statues.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will allow drive-in screenings to count towards a film's eligibility.

However, this rule change is only in place for the 93rd Academy Awards, which are scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 25, 2021.

Members of the Academy voted on Tuesday, October 6, to make the changes needed for films to qualify based on drive-in screenings, which build upon initial rule changes announced in April.

Films that debut on a streaming service without a theatrical run are also eligible for Oscars, in response to how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the film industry. These titles must, however, be uploaded to the Academy Screening Room.

For theatrical releases, films must run for at least seven days, with three screenings a day, in one of six qualifying cities: Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami or Atlanta.

When it comes to drive-in screenings, drive-in cinemas now qualify as commercial venues, with only one screening per day needed.

“The board initially made rule changes this past spring in response to theatre closures, allowing films unable to screen in theatres to qualify via the Academy Screening Room,” the Academy’s board of governors said in a statement.

“With the gradual reopening of theatres, an addendum was added to clarify the two methods for qualification in the Best Picture and general entry categories moving forward through the end of this exceptional awards year."

Oscars eligibility has been a major question since stay at home and social distancing orders led to both the cancellation of major film festivals and the closure of cinemas. Previously, a film would have to have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial cinema in order to be considered for film's highest honour.

The academy's board previously noted, however, that when cinemas reopen, the rules exemption will no longer apply.

The awards ceremony was originally scheduled for Sunday, February 28, 2021, but was pushed back in June, extending the cut-off date for Oscar-eligible films by two months

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