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Oscars: Academy approves major change to Best Picture eligibility rules

Jun 22, 2023

The Board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has approved a landmark change in eligibility rules for Best Picture.

Beginning with the 97th Academy Awards for films released in 2024, there are some significant added requirements for Best Picture eligibility after completion of the current initial qualifying run of a one-week theatrical release in one of six U.S. cities. These include:

  • 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 January 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 January 24, 2025;
  • Non-U.S. territory releases can count toward two of the 10 markets;
  • Qualifying non-U.S. markets include the top 15 international theatrical markets plus the home territory for the film.

AMPAS makes clear these new additional requirements are strictly for Best Picture and not for the other 22 categories, but of course Best Picture is the one just about everyone wants to be considered for.

“As we do every year, we have been reviewing and assessing our theatrical eligibility requirements for the Oscars,” Academy CEO Bill Kramer and President Janet Yang said in a statement. “In support of our mission to celebrate and honour 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 artform in a theatrical setting. Based on many conversations with industry partners, we feel that this evolution benefits film artists and movie lovers alike.”

With these changes, the Academy is hoping to reinforce its commitment to theatres and the unparalleled experience of seeing movies on the big screen, even as the organization admits that the way people watch movies continues to evolve.

Michael O’Leary, president & CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said  in a statement:

“On behalf of the men and women who operate movie theatres 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 recognises that to be fully appreciated as the art form they truly are, motion pictures must be experienced as intended: in a theatre full of people, on a big screen, with state-of-the-art projection, sound and lighting.”

“The Oscars are recognised 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.”

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