Oscars academy to stream Best Picture nominees in digital u-turn

Academy voters could be given streaming access to Best Picture nominees online

This image released by Netflix shows Yalitza Aparicio in a scene from the film "Roma," by filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron. The film is nominated for an Oscar for best picture and best foreign film. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24. (Alfonso Cuarón/Netflix via AP)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organisation that oversees the annual Oscars awards, is in the process of debating barring films from streaming services such as Netflix, thanks in part to an anti-streaming campaign headed up by Steven Spielberg. But at the same time it appears to be developing its own, in-house, streaming service to allow Oscars voters to watch Best Film contenders online.

The Academy already makes hopeful films in the animation, short film and documentary categories available to voting members online in an attempt to ensure more voters watch the movies, which may not make it to theatres, or only have limited releases. At a recent “post-Oscars debriefing” meeting with studio publicists and strategists, however, the Academy revealed it is looking into expanding the service to include Best Picture contenders, with studios invited to post their films on the platform at a cost of around $10,000-$15,000 per title.

Some studios already offer Academy members the option of streaming Oscar hopefuls via their own websites or third party platforms. But, according to The Hollywood Reporter, it was clear at the Academy meeting that most studios would — in addition to or instead of their own streaming service — welcome an Academy-sanctioned one, where all the contenders could be found in one place and which would undoubtedly be promoted to and be used by far more members.

The films will not be made available for public viewing, though the Academy's embracing of streaming services for its own members does seem to raise questions over the campaign to limit streamers' influence on audiences.

"The Academy encourages the theatrical experience for all films," the organization said in a statement. "We are exploring streaming as another option, along with DVD screeners, for distributors to share their films with Academy members around the world who might not have theatrical access to every film being considered."