In a significant development that could have far-reaching implications for Apple TV+ and its chances at the Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has officially formalized new rules aimed at making it harder for streaming services to qualify and win the coveted Best Picture at Oscar. Apple, which has enjoyed considerable success at the Oscars, including the Best Picture wins for “Coda” in 2022, may now face an uphill battle in securing future nominations and awards due to these rule changes.
Previously, under the existing regulations, a film was required to have a one-week theatrical release in one of six designated U.S. cities to qualify for the Academy Awards. However, starting from the 97th Academy Awards, which will cover films released in 2024, the rules will become more stringent.
Under the new guidelines, a film’s qualification process will begin with the initial one-week theatrical run in one of the specified cities. However, it must now be followed by an extended theatrical release of seven days in at least ten of the top 50 U.S. markets within 45 days of the initial release. For films released late in the year with expansions after January 10, 2025, distributors must submit their release plans for verification by the Academy, which must include a planned expanded theatrical run to be completed by January 24, 2025.
The Academy allows non-U.S. territory releases to count toward two of the ten required markets, with the qualifying non-U.S. markets comprising the top 15 international markets and the home territory of the film itself.
“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,” stated Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang, explaining the rationale behind the rule changes.
It’s important to note that these changes exclusively pertain to the Best Picture category, with eligibility for individual disciplines remaining unaffected.
While traditional film studios that primarily rely on theatrical releases may not be significantly impacted by the rule changes, Apple, which already incorporates theatrical releases for its movies, could face increased costs and production challenges in complying with the new requirements. This could potentially hinder their ability to compete on an equal footing with traditional studios.
Furthermore, the rule changes may also have implications for streaming service viewership. Encouraging audiences to watch films in theaters to justify the costs and distribution efforts could potentially result in fewer views for the films on streaming platforms themselves.
As Apple TV+ seeks to solidify its presence in the highly competitive film industry, these newly established regulations will undoubtedly present a formidable challenge. The streaming service will need to navigate the evolving landscape of Oscar eligibility requirements while continuing to produce exceptional content that captivates both critics and audiences alike.
Ultimately, the impact of these rules on Apple TV+ and other streaming platforms will become clearer in the coming years. The film industry is in the midst of a dynamic shift, with the boundaries between traditional and streaming releases becoming increasingly blurred. The Academy’s decision to tighten its eligibility criteria is a reflection of these evolving dynamics, aimed at ensuring the continued celebration and recognition of cinematic achievements in an ever-changing landscape.