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Academy Announces New Theatrical Standards for Best Picture Eligibility Ahead of 97th Oscars Honoring 2024 Movies

In an effort to ensure that streamers will remain committed to the theatrical experience for the long haul — at least as far as their awards contenders are concerned — the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ Board of Governors has announced new eligibility standards for its Best Picture prize, starting with films released in 2024.

The new requirements are designed to broaden streamers’ efforts in theatrical exhibition, as films will now have to screen for seven days in 10 of the top 50 U.S. markets, as opposed to simply in Los Angeles or New York, where top streamers such as Netflix, Amazon, and Apple have already been releasing their Best Picture nominees in theaters.

This is, of course, a good thing for which the Academy should be applauded, if only to further distinguish the difference between making movies for the big screen, which merit Oscars, and movies for, ultimately, television, which merit Emmys… not that streamers haven’t released some great, Oscar-worthy movies, including Manchester by the Sea and actual Best Picture winner CODA.

Upon completion of an initial qualifying run, which is currently defined as a one-week theatrical release in one of six U.S. qualifying cities, a film must meet the following additional theatrical standards for Best Picture eligibility:

  • Expanded theatrical run of seven days, consecutive or non-consecutive, in 10 of the top 50 U.S. markets, no later than 45 days after the initial release in 2024.
  • For late-in-the-year films with expansions after Jan. 10, 2025, distributors must submit release plans to the Academy for verification.
  • Release plans for late-in-the-year films must include a planned expanded theatrical run, as described above, to be completed no later than Jan. 24, 2025.
  • Non-U.S. territory releases can count towards two of the 10 markets.
  • Qualifying non-U.S. markets include the top 15 international theatrical markets plus the home territory for the film.
Sarah Polley
Sarah Polley accepts the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay/AMPAS/ABC

“As we do every year, we have been reviewing and assessing our theatrical eligibility requirements for the Oscars,” Academy CEO Bill Kramer and AMPAS President Janet Yang said in a joint statement. “In support of our mission to celebrate and honor the arts and sciences of moviemaking, it is our hope that this expanded theatrical footprint will increase the visibility of films worldwide and encourage audiences to experience our art form in a theatrical setting. Based on many conversations with industry partners, we feel that this evolution benefits film artists and movie lovers alike.”

NATO CEO/President Michael O’Leary issued a statement on behalf of enthused theater owners:

On behalf of the men and women who operate movie theaters across this nation, NATO applauds the Academy’s decision to require nominees for Best Picture to have a more substantial theatrical footprint beginning in 2025. We specifically want to thank Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang for their leadership on this important initiative. 

This decision recognizes that to be fully appreciated as the art form they truly are, motion pictures must be experienced as intended: in a theater full of people, on a big screen, with state-of-the-art projection, sound and lighting. 

The Oscars are recognized by moviegoers around the world as the pinnacle of artistic accomplishment in motion pictures, and this important step, taken by the Academy, affirms that theatrical exhibition is the keystone of the industry. Simply put, the best movies in the world are at their best on the big screen.

Eligibility for achievements in the various discipline categories will not be impacted by this requirement, as they only relate to the category of Best Picture. Click here for more information on the rules and regulations surrounding eligibility for the Academy Awards.



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