Netflix won a big victory in its fight to have its movies continue to be eligible for Oscars

Netflix‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ was nominated for three Oscars at this year’s ceremony.
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors voted on Tuesday to keep existing eligibility rules for the Oscars, meaning Netflix is safe to compete.
  • Filmmaker Steven Spielberg was reportedly expected to lead a campaign at the meeting to change the rules to limit Netflix’s participation.
  • But Spielberg wasn’t even at the meeting, and thinks his feelings on Netflix have been mischaracterized, according to The New York Times.
  • “I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them,” Spielberg said in a statement to the Times. “… However, I feel people need to have the opportunity to leave the safe and familiar of their lives and go to a place where they can sit in the company of others and have a shared experience.”

The “war” between Netflix and Oscars traditionalists is dying down – for now.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday rule changes that will be implemented for next year’s Oscars, but one thing that won’t change is a movie’s eligibility.

“The Academy’s Board of Governors voted to maintain Rule Two, Eligibility for the 92nd Oscars,” the Academy said. “The rule states that to be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theatre, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission.”

It added, “Motion pictures released in nontheatrical media on or after the first day of their Los Angeles County theatrical qualifying run remain eligible.”

READ MORE: Demand is so high for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ that many AMC theatres will be open 24 hours a day all weekend

That’s good news for Netflix, which usually releases movies to theatres the same day they are available to stream. It made an exception for some movies last year, including “Roma,” giving them exclusive theatrical releases ahead of their streaming debut.

Ahead of this week’s Academy Board of Governor’s meeting, the Academy was reportedly considering rule changes that could affect Netflix’s participation in the Oscars. Indiewire reported last month that veteran filmmaker Steven Spielberg was expected to lead a campaign to limit streamers from competing.

The battle between Netflix and Oscars traditionalists even caught the attention of the Department of Justice, which sent a letter to the Academy warning against any rule changes that could hurt the streaming giant, citing “antitrust concerns.”

But the concerns over Netflix’s Oscars future have perhaps been overblown. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Spielberg would not even be attending that evening’s Governor’s Board meeting due to the busy schedule for his upcoming “West Side Story” remake. Additionally, Spielberg thinks his feelings toward Netflix have been mischaracterized, according to the Times, which cited two anonymous sources.

Roma netflixNetflix‘Roma’ won three Oscars at this year’s ceremony.

Spielberg moreso wants to see compromise between exhibitors and streaming, and even called theatre companies AMC and Regal to show “Roma” in January after it was nominated for best picture, according to the Times (they did not).

“I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them,” Spielberg said in a statement to the Times. “Big screen, small screen – what really matters to me is a great story and everyone should have access to great stories. However, I feel people need to have the opportunity to leave the safe and familiar of their lives and go to a place where they can sit in the company of others and have a shared experience – cry together, laugh together, be afraid together – so that when it’s over they might feel a little less like strangers. I want to see the survival of movie theatres. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.”

Robert De Niro, who’s starring in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Netflix movie, “The Irishman,” jumped into the debate during an appearance on “Today” Wednesday morning.

“The bottom line is we would not have been able to make the movie the way we would have wanted to make it if we didn’t have the money Netflix could give us,” he said. “It wouldn’t happen… We are indebted to them in many ways and now we just have to work out how much theatrically we can show the movie and then where it goes into the format that they’re famous for.”

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