The Spielberg vs. Netflix war is over before it ever truly began.
The Academy’s Board of Governors has held its first formal meeting following this year’s Oscars and the much talked about showdown did not happen – in fact, the influential filmmaker wasn’t there.
According to reports there was no debate, and the board has voted to keep the status quo – including Rule Two which says a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater including a minimum of three screenings per day for paid admission.
Films released in non-theatrical media (TV networks, streaming services) on or after the first day of their Los Angeles County theatrical qualifying run remain eligible. Had the rule been changed to effectively block streaming services, numerous limited release titles would have been severely affected in the process including at least 80-90+ international submissions per year.
In a statement from the Academy, outgoing AMPAS president John Bailey says:
“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions. Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”
Some rules changes have been made though. The Foreign Language Film category has now been renamed International Feature Film though the name change does not affect any existing category rules or eligibility requirements (and must still have a predominantly non-English dialogue track). In addition, the number of shortlist nominees is expanding to ten films.
The Makeup and Hairstyling category is expanding to five nominees after being stuck at just three nominees for years, while the Animated Feature category will be permanent – no longer needing eight theatrical releases to be ‘activated’.
Finally the 92nd Oscars will also be starting much earlier in the day – the ceremony moving up 90 minutes and will now kick off at 3:30pm US-PT on Sunday, February 9th.
Separately, just before the meeting, Spielberg offered a comment to The New York Times and says his priority is to preserve the idealism of the movie theater experience:
“I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them. Big screen, small screen – what really matters to me is a great story and everyone should have access to great stories. However, I feel people need to have the opportunity to leave the safe and familiar of their lives and go to a place where they can sit in the company of others and have a shared experience – cry together, laugh together, be afraid together – so that when it’s over they might feel a little less like strangers. I want to see the survival of movie theaters. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.”
Source: The Playlist