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Hollywood Argues Oscar Eligibility of Films vs Movies Made for Streaming




The Hollywood movie industry argued about what constitutes a film in a knock-down, drag-out fight with the Oscars as the boxing ring a few years back. Despite the disagreement, several films launched on streaming services were nominated to win an Oscar.

Streaming sites like Netflix, Apple, and HBO Max insist that the delivery route is irrelevant. A film watched on a smartphone is still a film. Hollywood was insistent that big screens are part of the definition of cinema. Steven Spielberg told a reporter:

Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar.

Pandemic Disruption

The pandemic expedited the interference that dozens of orthodox theatrical studio movies like Sony, Paramount, Universal, Disney, and Warner Bros. to redirect films to streaming services or simultaneously released online and in theaters. Citing the threat of coronavirus, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences allowed films to skip a theatrical release and still be eligible for Oscars for the last two years. The previous requirement was a movie must be released in theaters for at least a week.


Courtesy of R.A. Killmer (Flickr CC0)

The concern is more than Hollywood’s selfishness since there are 300 streaming services in the United States, and theater could exclusively become the land of the sequel, superheroes, and remakes.

Warner Bros. has cut nearly half of annual film output and strengthened a direct-to-broadcast movie line-up. In addition, Amazon has stepped up its Prime Video service last week and acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, the company behind “Licorice Pizza,” a nominee for best picture and three Academy Awards.

Streaming services tightened their grip on audiences when Hollywood failed to launch theatrical films when theaters were closed for most of 2020 due to the pandemic. As a result, some theater companies have gone out of business, while others have merged.

“CODA,” a dramedy about the only hearing member of a deaf family from Apple TV, won several Oscars. It previously won top credits at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Producers Guild Awards, and Writers Guild Awards.

Since the industry is in trouble, Hollywood elites should not be intimidated by streaming services and the business practices of technology giants like Amazon and Apple. Films and television have merged for years, but demarcation lines remain. While last year’s Oscar winner “Nomadland” was played in 1,200 theaters and had an exclusive IMAX run in the United States, it was predominantly watched on Hulu.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


The New York Times: Streaming Took Over Hollywood. Will It Take Best Picture, Too?; by Brooks Barnes and Nicole Sperling
MCE Zone: Streaming took over Hollywood. Will it even take the best picture?
News Prepare: Streaming Took Over Hollywood. Will It Take Best Picture, Too?

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Sean Barnard’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of R.A. Killmer’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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