Film Academy Sets New Oscar Rules Including Limiting Song Submissions, Clarifying Campaign Guidelines

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced several changes in Oscar rules and campaigning requirements, as well as a return to the calendar year for submissions. While digital screeners will still be available, “The Academy encourages the screening of eligible films in a theatrical setting for its members,” the organization emphasized.

The Academy is also underlining the importance of theatrical distribution, emphasizing that “Films that, in any version, receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release will not be eligible for Academy Awards in any category.”

Changes include:

  • In the Music (Original Song) category, no more than three songs from any one film may be submitted.
  • In the Documentary categories, the category names have been changed to Documentary Feature Film and Documentary Short Film from the previous Documentary (Feature) and Documentary (Short Subject).
  • Changes are also afoot in the Sound category, where producers will now be required to make their films available for viewing by sound branch members, particularly when the release date is after the preliminary voting cycle opens. “Additionally, clips for the nominating screening (bake-off) shall not exceed 10 minutes of running time per title,” the Academy explained.

The eligibility period for Academy Awards consideration is returning to the full calendar year after the pandemic forced changes in the calendar. A feature film must have a qualifying theatrical release date between Jan. 1, 2022 and Dec. 31, 2022.

Films must be released in theaters to be eligible, the Academy said. “The Academy Screening Room will no longer be a method of qualification, as theaters have reopened; the six qualifying U.S. metropolitan areas continue to be Los Angeles County; the City of New York; the Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia, and apply to General Entry categories as well as the Documentary and Short Film categories,” the Academy explained.

Academy Screening Room access will continue to be made available for all eligible releases, with digital links to materials permitted under certain circumstances.

As far as campaigning, the Academy set forth a detailed list of the ways film companies can and cannot appeal to Academy members to watch and consider their films. “ALL sanctioned items for eligible films must be sent using an Academy approved mailing house,” AMPAS decreed. The Academy also reiterated rules such as no dinners or parties for films either before or after nominations, though food and beverages may be served at screenings before nominations.

Other campaign rules include:

    • Before nominations, only member of the writer’s branch may receive screenplays.
    • Likewise, scores may be sent only to members of the music branch before nominations.
    • Mailings are limited in number and may not include quotes, photographs or key art.
    • Q&As must have only one moderator, and after nominations, all participants other than the moderator must either be nominated or eligible to be nominated.

    “It should not be assumed that any tactics or activities not specifically addressed by these regulations are acceptable,” the Academy said.

    A complete list of rules is available at the Oscars website.

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