Oscars considering rule change to lock out Apple & Netflix

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The Oscar's governing board is considering rules that will force Apple TV+ and Netflix to release more movies for longer runs in theaters -- or they won't even be considered for Academy Awards.

Apple TV+ hit
Apple TV+ hit "CODA" was the first streaming film to win Best Picture

Apple was the first streamer to win a Best Picture Oscar with 2022's "CODA," and then it followed that with a second Academy Award for its short film "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse." Plus the company is reportedly increasing its movie budget to $1 billion annually, including the costs of having more theatrical releases.

It just may not be enough. According to Puck News, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is privately considering revamping its entry rules.

Currently, to be eligible for consideration as Best Picture, a movie must be first shown in theaters, ahead of any streaming, and stay there for at least a week. However, streamers can put the film out online at the same time as playing in theaters -- and it doesn't have to be all that many movie theaters.

At present, a film can be entered for Best Picture if it's had a week in any movie theaters in any one of six key markets. Thos are LA, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, or Atlanta.

If Puck News is correct, the new rules being considered by Academy CEO Bill Kramer, will require films to play in between 15 and 20 of the top 50 US markets.

Reportedly, the National Association of Theatre Owners has reassured the Academy that capacity in its establishments will not be a problem. You bet it won't: movie theaters are being hit badly by streaming.

Impact of the rumored rule change

The Academy has not commented, and it's reported that the rule change has yet to be voted on by its board of governors. But it's claimed that the move is to help theatres and not to hurt streamers.

Kramer and at least some governors believe that this move will help movie craft areas like sound and visual effects, that were made for theaters.

It will cost the streamers money, though, both in distribution costs and potentially in reduced viewing numbers on their services. The number of cinema goers seems unlikely to be high enough that it dents viewership, but a film that is received badly in theaters will be affected.

Netflix did have a limited theatrical release for Rian Johnson's "Glass Onion" movie, but it was short term -- and it was part of the deal for getting the rights to the film.

Otherwise, Netflix has tended to shy away from theatrical releases. Yet at the same time, both Amazon and Apple have stepped up their theatrical runs, with Apple even re-releasing "CODA" into theaters to capitalize on its Oscar win.

At present, it's certain that streamers put films in theaters to ensure awards eligibility, but it's probable that they also see it as a significant advertising push.

Dramatically increasing the costs of distribution could change that. If the Academy's board votes to accept rules like this at its next meeting at the end of April, it's conceivable that Apple will become the sole streamer to ever win a Best Picture Oscar.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 34
    Maybe this is why Bezos is going to buy AMC Theaters?
  • Reply 2 of 34
    AppleishAppleish Posts: 696member
    I heard a rumor on a podcast that Apple is working on their relationships with film makers and may be promising to put their films in theaters for a full month. How many markets was not discussed, but it sounded like they are will to normalize releases, and if anyone could afford that, it's Apple.

    Personally, we are done with theaters. Ever before the pandemic, it was a bad experience. People think they are in their living rooms and act accordingly. I put together a 13-channel Dolby Atmos theater during the pandemic in our living room. We can wait a few weeks for new releases.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    larryalarrya Posts: 608member
    I mean, how can we say a movie is good if it hasn’t fulfilled some arbitrary criterion?
  • Reply 4 of 34
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,809member
    I have a feeling we are getting this close🫸🫷to having a Streaming Service Awards show start that slowly draws interest away from the Academy. Imagine the SSA Awards show that handed out the Sallys every year. Stranger things have happened. I remember when nobody had heard of this thing called The Golden Globes.
  • Reply 5 of 34
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,758member
    Start their own awards ceremony, maybe it wouldn't be as manipulated.

  • Reply 6 of 34
    payecopayeco Posts: 581member
    If Apple knew they were going to have to spend the money to put Coda in 20 different markets for multiple weeks they probably wouldn’t have bought the movie. A rule like this is going to harm bigger budget indie productions, which are finally starting to make a comeback thanks to streaming services. 
  • Reply 7 of 34
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,086member
    I have visited a "theater" for the last time. 
  • Reply 8 of 34
    iOS_Guy80iOS_Guy80 Posts: 836member
    DAalseth said:
    I have a feeling we are getting this close🫸🫷to having a Streaming Service Awards show start that slowly draws interest away from the Academy. Imagine the SSA Awards show that handed out the Sallys every year. Stranger things have happened. I remember when nobody had heard of this thing called The Golden Globes.
    Yes indeed.The Academy Awards is becoming a dinosaur. As is movie theaters. 
  • Reply 9 of 34
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 1,118member
    This doesn’t seem like a particularly harmful move, as long as there is some concession (no pun intended) for smaller-budget pictures that may not be able to swing a wide initial release but could definitely benefit from the attention that an Academy Award could foster. A lot of filmmakers want their films to be seen in theaters on a big screen. It’s obviously different from the home experience and can be pretty pricey these days, but it’s also hard to deny that theaters can still provide a very significant source of revenue for the industry if some current problems like public health concerns can be solved. So it’s hard to blame the Academy for wanting to help theaters stay in business—their primary purpose is to support the film industry, not to serve the general public by evaluating various types of moving images. And I say this as a longtime shareholder of Apple and Netflix who also has an excellent home theater set-up. It should also be noted that there’s a long history of Oscars being limited to films shown in theaters, and only recently would content produced primarily for the small screen even have been considered. And it’s also just an Oscar after all.
  • Reply 10 of 34
    ronnronn Posts: 668member
    The Academy will make decisions that is in its best interests. Apple et al will adapt. I seriously doubt that they will forego the opportunity to win Oscar awards and all the buzz before the trophies are handed out.
  • Reply 11 of 34
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,347member
    Apple is already moving to prevent this MPAA lockout, so let's see what Amazon does about it.
  • Reply 12 of 34
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 1,035member
    I'm sure people in that industry care quite a lot about "academy" awards, just like the Soapy and other prestigious awards.  But won't they look silly when the best movies of the year are not eligible for their thing?

    For me, the best place to watch a movie is at home or on a long flight.  I get to a movie theater only every few years and I don't care if they just go away.  I am old enough to buy candy any time I want it so I don't need to look forward to the special occasion of sitting in a filthy uncomfortable room with a bunch of other people.
    edited March 2023 kkqd1337byronl
  • Reply 13 of 34
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,926member
    It’s a good idea. A movIe should play in theaters. That’s what separates it from a tv show. 
    get serious
  • Reply 14 of 34
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 1,031member
    The Academy is less supporting movies than movie theaters. Where's the money going to be? 

    Imagine if the music awards were only given to artists whose music is on CD. Sounds stupid, doesn't it?

    So supporting 30 day old popcorn is the Academy's ultimate goal?
    edited March 2023 DAalsethwilliamh
  • Reply 15 of 34
    chutzpahchutzpah Posts: 392member
    I appreciate a good cinema experience.  Sounds like exactly the sort of the thing the Academy should be doing to support the industry.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,199member
    MacPro said:
    Start their own awards ceremony, maybe it wouldn't be as manipulated.

     Now that’s funny.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    Cool!  Now I can not watch the Oscar’s on Apple TV and Netflix too!
  • Reply 18 of 34
    XedXed Posts: 2,626member
    jungmark said:
    It’s a good idea. A movIe should play in theaters. That’s what separates it from a tv show. 
    I'd like to understand how you can claim that something like The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1994) which was 82 minutes and generally referred to as "straight-to-video" or something like Apple TV+'s Greyhound (2020) are simply TV shows because they didn't have a movie theater run.
  • Reply 19 of 34
    kkqd1337kkqd1337 Posts: 433member
    I go to the theatre to see live plays and musicals.

    I watch movies at home. 

    Cinemas I will never see the point of. 
  • Reply 20 of 34
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,423member
    Seems like a backward facing move when other awards like the Pulitzer Prize have expanded to include online contributions and other channels. If you want to expand the reach of your media/content wouldn’t you want to get it out to as many eyeballs as quickly as possible? A lot of those eyeballs (and ears) are now focused on content delivered through steaming services and across many more screen sizes from smartphones to ginormous home theater systems.

    I suppose it comes down to what the Academy Awards views as their mission. If it’s to prop up traditional distribution channels and the theaters they can keep doing whatever they want. There may want to get together with some of the survivors of the once thriving newspaper industry to see how they dealt with similar desires to maintain the status quo rather than to adapt and go where their reader’s eyeballs were going.

    These media industries have largely transformed from push-model to pull-model. Consumers want to consume media where and when it’s convenient for them and not be restricted to the artificially manipulated distribution models being pushed by the media creators and distributors, whose timing and targeting are often based on their desires to maximize the “award potential” of their products. Again, it’s the producer’s gig so they can do whatever they want.

    Times have changed and consumers have changed and production companies may find themselves winning a shiny prize but pissing off a growing segment of their customer base while the big theatre experience continues to shrink. I’m seriously not missing the sticky floors, stale popcorn, rude conversations, and idiots who won’t turn off their damn phones. Recliner seating is nice, but you’re coming down into a seat that’s been absorbing the sheddings and detritus from who knows how many previous occupants.
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