2020 has shaken the entertainment industry to the core. Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary has been cancelled, video game releases delayed and, worst of all, they’re not showing Eastenders every night. However, the film industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic. With cinemas across the globe closed for the foreseeable future, many feature releases have been moved straight to the multiple streaming platforms, changing it from the silver screen to the silver stream. On 29th April, the Academy confirmed that for the 2021 awards, due to be held next February, a cinema release will not be required for a film to be nominated.
Although many films made by the big streaming studios get academy nominations, most notably Netflix being nominated for 24 awards this year, mainly for The Irishman, The Two Popes and Marriage Story, they require cinema showings to be eligible. Next year however, this will not be the case. With releases such as Onward and Bloodshot leading the charge for the online move, who knows what else will follow? With so many releases being shifted to the back end of 2020, will this move by the Academy potentially bring forward release dates for at home viewing? With Black Widow and Mulan due to be in cinemas now, could we be seeing a suprise release on Amazon or other pay-to-view streaming sites?
The big sleeper in this, however, is the award potential of streaming-only releases. With Netflix and similar streaming platforms being the main way of accessing new content, could we potentially see films which would be initially be overlooked for awards due to this lack of cinema prestige make a resounding entrance at next years Oscars? Netflix studios have recently been climbing up the ladder for nominations, with Netflix Original Roma winning International Picture at the 2019 awards, and The Irishman recieving 10 nominations this year, who’s to say that a streaming hidden gem wouldn’t sneak up and steal the award season limelight? I guess that whether big releases make it straight to the small screen will be a matter of how long these closures last, and although The Academy has confirmed they will only be changing these rules for the 2021 awards, with a halt on the majority of filming, could a pause in film making lead to a drought in 2021 releases? Could this reduction in cinema releases once again validate streaming shown pictures for the 2022 awards and lead to streaming-only films see themselves bag a permanent place at the Academy Awards? Only time will tell.
Watch the trailer for Roma, last year’s International Picture winner, below: