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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 05: Oscar statue at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on February 05, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts  is changing a few rules on how they will consider movies for the 2021 awards season due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a press release, they explain that “Until further notice, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry, and specialty categories.” They add that this will be for the 93rd Academy Awards year only.

The previous rule was that a film must “be shown in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for a theatrical qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily.”

Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson explained their decision, saying, “The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater.  Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering.” They add, “Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules.  The Academy supports our members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty.  We recognize the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever.”

As of right now, the 2021 Academy Awards are scheduled for Sunday, February 28, 2021, on ABC.