Can Straight-to-Streaming Movies Win Oscars?

Before the coronavirus, people fancied going to movie theaters to catch up on the latest releases. However, as the reality of the pandemic set in, the world had to adjust how it consumed everything, including movies. Today, many films we saw as theatrical releases have moved to streaming platforms like Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix. The question then becomes, can straight-to-stream movies win Oscars, or have they been locked out of the awards? Find out.

Is streaming the new normal?

An Oscar Statue is displayed
An Oscar Statue is displayed | VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Before the pandemic, experts expected giant streaming service Netflix would slow down on its expansion due to the growing market saturation. This came after several competitors like Disney and HBO launched their own streaming services. However, with the pandemic and quarantine, Netflix experienced faster growth than in 2019.

The streaming industry has been experiencing a war of sorts, with each one competing to acquire more subscribers than the other. Amazon’s acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is set to boost the service’s film library. However, studies show that streaming service fatigue is starting to kick in. 

Various polls conducted on the subject show that consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed. This is understandable as there are about 300 streaming services in the United States today. The market saturation will see the majority of the services bowing out as the market becomes crowded.

Although consumers are today taking advantage of the numerous services, they are slowly becoming wary of them as they are cautious of the different platforms becoming more costly. Sources say households are taking on three platforms at a time. Disney+ and Apple TV are all the rage with their affordable prices, but by the time others catch on, the streamers will have increased their prices which the customer will have to accept because of the streamer’s content quality.

The Academy has modified its rules to allow straight to streaming movies to win

Streaming services had a win earlier this year. The New York Times reports that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said that movies could skip their theatrical releases altogether and qualify for the Academy Awards. When making the decision, the Academy claimed that the film marketplace was “still impacted by the pandemic.”

Movie theaters are slowly reopening all around the world, albeit at a slower pace. However, only films with a previously scheduled theatrical release qualify for consideration for the Oscars under the streaming rule. This means that no traditional TV movies are included in the requirement.

The Academy previously had a rule stating that a movie should have had at least a brief theatrical release of at least one week in Los Angeles. Streaming services like Amazon and Netflix reluctantly agreed to the rule, which the Academy dropped in April 2020 due to the pandemic.

At the time, the Academy had stated that it would restore its requirement for theatrical release after movie theaters returned to normal functions but later indicated that the rule remained unchanged.

When are the next Oscars?

The first Academy Awards happened over a short dinner presentation in 1929. After more than twenty years of broadcasting the event on the radio, the awards went from local to intentional, and the show was first televised in 1953, with NBC presenting the statues now called Oscars.

Several changes have occurred to the Academy Awards over the years, from the method of transmission to the addition and removal of categories like Best Dance Direction. The ceremony also shifted locations from happening in various venues in Los Angeles to exclusively being held in the Dolby Theatre.

The 93rd Annual Academy Awards were scheduled to air in February 2021 but got pushed back to April 25 due to the coronavirus. The recent Oscars experienced a change in pace as movies seen on streaming platforms dominated the event. The next Oscars will be televised on March 27, 2022.

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