• The new Oscars ruling requires films in the Best Picture category to have a 7-day run in 10 of the top 50 U.S. markets.
  • Netflix’s strategy of limited U.S. releases for Oscar-eligible films will need to change due to the new Academy rules.
  • The new rule aims to level the playing field for non-streaming distributors while pushing streamers like Netflix to invest in wider theatrical releases.

A new rule for the Academy Awards will hurt Netflix’s current strategy. The Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars, have been making some changes in the past several years that affect how films are considered. This has included pivoting the former Best Foreign Language Feature category to Best International Feature, merging the Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing awards to one Best Sound award, and introducing a new category for Best Casting for films released in 2025.

Now, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released a new rule about the theatrical run a film must have to go through to be considered. These rules, called the “expanded theatrical eligibility requirements,” affect the Best Picture category. According to these conditions, films will now have to have an expanded run of one week in 10 out of the top 50 U.S markets. For films with expanded releases that come after January 10, 2025, distributors must submit a release plan subject to Academy approval. Check out the new rules below:

In the
Best Picture
category, the expanded theatrical eligibility requirements, approved by the Board of Governors in June 2023, will take effect for the 97th Oscars®. Upon completion of an initial qualifying run, currently defined as a one-week theatrical release in one of the six U.S. qualifying cities, a film must meet the following additional theatrical standards for Best Picture eligibility:

  1. 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.
  2. For late-in-the-year films with expansions after January 10, 2025, distributors must submit release plans to the Academy for verification.
  3. Release plans for late-in-the-year films must include a planned expanded theatrical run, as described above, to be completed no later than January 24, 2025.
  4. Non-U.S. territory releases can count towards two of the 10 markets.
  5. Qualifying non-U.S. markets include the top 15 international theatrical markets plus the home territory for the film.

How These Rule Changes Will Affect Netflix

Felix Kammerer as Paul from All Quiet on the Western Front covered in mud.

This new Oscars ruling represents a major shift from the previous rule, which only required films to release for one week in one of six qualifying cities: Los Angeles County, the City of New York, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Atlanta, and the Bay Area. This policy allowed films to have extremely limited releases, showing only to an elite group and never releasing widely. The old ruling benefitted streamers, who would not have to assume the associated costs that go along with wider theatrical distribution, instead releasing films primarily on streaming.

Netflix has taken advantage of this policy with their releases for years. Recent examples include All Quiet on the Western Front (2022), which did not receive a wide release in the United States until after its nominations. 2021’s The Power of the Dog also received a limited release, likely not qualifying under the new rule that a film must release in 10 of the top 50 U.S. Markets.


Netflix’s 5-Year Oscars Pursuit Hasn’t Delivered A Best Picture Win (Can 2024?)

Netflix has spent the last five years vying for an Oscars Best Picture win to no avail despite several nominations, and 2024 will be tough too.

The new Academy ruling will force Netflix to pivot strategies as it goes into effect for next year’s Oscars ceremony. For non-streaming distributors, this ruling will be a win in the effort to level the playing field and revive interest in the cinema. For Netflix, it may mean at least temporarily having fewer Best Picture nominees, as the streamer cannot take up as much space with largely streaming-only (save a formerly U.S. qualifying release) release. Hopefully, this change will be for the better and force streamers to pay up for theatrical releases.

Source: AMPAS

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