When a national emergency was declared last month, it left theatres, concert stages, and movie house empty and plans to release films on hold.

While the release dates for some films have been pushed until next year, it was a big too late for the immediate releases to change dates.  Some of those films were released directly to streaming services for viewers to download or stream at home.

The Motion Picture Academy has decided that films released directly to a streaming service without being shown first in theatres will be eligible for the annual Academy Awards…but only for this coming year.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has announced that due to the recent events of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Academy will include direct to streaming films eligible for the 93rd annual Academy Awards.

Previously for a film to be Oscar eligible, it required a minimum of a seven day run in a Los Angeles County commercial movie theatre; but with the closure of the movie theaters, The Academy has said that films scheduled for a theater run but have been released via a streaming service or on demand service may qualify for Oscar Best Picture and other film categories.  But once the movie theaters reopen, the exemption will end.

Speaking on the matter, Academy president David Ruben said, “we’re dealing with the unfolding reality of an unanticipated, unprecedented global health crisis and trying to be responsive to what’s going on in the world and at the same time support our filmmakers who are in a circumstance beyond their control.”

Other changes to the annual Academy Awards is a consolidation of the two sound categories into a single category – sound mixing and sound editing will become a Best Achievement in Sound category.

In order for a film’s music to be eligible in the Original Music category, it must have at least 60 percent new original music.  In the case of a sequel or franchise film, there must be at least 80 percent original music.

And in an effort to become more carbon neutral, The Academy will put an end to using a DVD for film screenings beginning with the 94th annual Oscars in 2022.

Currently the 93rd annual Academy Awards are scheduled to be presented on February 28, 2021

Earlier this month The Academy donated $6 million to motion picture employees to help out during the current health crisis.