Streaming services win battle over Oscars cinema rule
Los Angeles — In a win for Netflix, Amazon and other internet streaming services, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted not to change its rules for winning an Oscar, Hollywood’s top prize.
The decision follows a battle over how long a movie must play on the big screens in cinemas before being launched on the internet, DVD or other mediums that put it on the small screen.
The academy’s board of governors said on Tuesday the existing rules, which say a movie has to run in a cinema for only seven days in Los Angeles to qualify, had won.
“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.
Some cinema owners say short runs at a theatre means more people will stay at home to watch movies.
And film producers including Steven Spielberg have said movies that are shown primarily on the small screen should only compete for television awards, such as the Emmys.
In February, Netflix won three Oscars for Roma, which streamed three weeks after a limited theatrical debut.
Netflix tweeted that it “loved cinema” but also supported access for people who cannot afford, or do not live close to, movie theatres.
Shorter windows would keep some customers at home, Greg Marcus, CEO of The Marcus Corporation, owner of the fourth-largest US cinema chain, said.
“If you damage the business and take away 10% of our customers, we won’t be able to reinvest in the theatrical experience,” Marcus said. “That would ultimately hurt content providers.”
Others said consumers are happy with the current system.
Ticket sales in 2018 reached a record $41bn globally and $12bn in the US and Canada, even as Netflix released about 90 movies for streaming.
“We’re not talking about something that’s broken,” Vue International cinemas CEO Tim Richards said in an earlier interview with Reuters.
The academy’s Bailey said the rule could be revisited in 2020.
“We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues,” he said.