Netflix Inc. and other streaming services won’t face a tougher road to the Oscars next year.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided against rule changes that would have made it harder for streaming movies to be eligible for awards — despite a push by Hollywood traditionalists like Steven Spielberg to ensure that Oscar nominees have more extensive runs in theaters.
Under current rules, eligible movies must have a run at a theater in Los Angeles County that can be as short as seven days, including three screenings a day for paying customers. Films can be released via other media on or after the first day of that theatrical run.
After Netflix’s “Roma” almost won an Academy Award for best picture this year, some critics accused the company of undermining longstanding industry practices on screenings. Spielberg, who won a best-picture award for “Schindler’s List,” has reportedly pushed for changes at the Academy. He has said that streaming movies shouldn’t be considered for Oscars unless they also have a traditional run in theaters.
Netflix has been showing its prestige movies like “Roma” in theaters, but only in stretches of a few weeks before they appear on its streaming platform.
The U.S. Justice Department also weighed in on the issue. It warned the Academy that if rule changes hurt Netflix, they may violate laws meant to protect competition, according to a person familiar with the matter. Makan Delrahim, head of the agency’s antitrust division, sent a letter to Academy Chief Executive Officer Dawn Hudson on March 21, expressing concern about the way new award rules might be written, the person said.
The Academy said on Tuesday that it will continue to ponder the issue.
“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions,” Academy President John Bailey said in a statement. “We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”
The academy did make some changes in other areas. The foreign language film category, for instance, will now be called the international feature film.
“We have noted that the reference to ‘foreign’ is outdated within the global filmmaking community,” Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, co-chairs of the International Feature Film Committee, said in the statement.
The 92nd Oscars will be held on Feb. 9, 2020, in Hollywood.