As Hollywood attempts to grapple with a changing production and theatrical environment due to the coronavirus pandemic, the major guilds have been weighing the implications of previously scheduled contract negotiations and how to protect their members from overly zealous producers. But, distractions are always welcome and awards conveniently fit that description. Now, following announcements from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Hollywood Foreign Press Association, both the DGA and the PGA are also making changes to their qualifiers for their year-end honors.
The Directors Guild of America announced today that there would be a temporary exception for submissions to the 2021 DGA Awards in the Theatrical Feature Film, First-Time Feature Film, and Documentary categories. In a release, the DGA noted, “Regularly, a seven-day theatrical run in Los Angeles or New York is required for filmmakers to be eligible for consideration in the Theatrical Feature Film, First-Time Feature Film, and Documentary DGA Awards categories – and for the Theatrical Feature Film category, that run must be prior to any other exhibition (i.e. no day-and-date streaming or on-demand). The limited exception for the 2021 DGA Awards will apply to theatrical motion pictures that establish they had a scheduled or planned bona fide theatrical release with a commercial motion picture theater distribution chain in Los Angeles or New York after March 13, 2020 when the theaters closed – and were instead distributed on video on demand (pay-per-view or streaming) on a national platform for at least seven (7) consecutive days.”
That language is actually much more specific than what AMPAS had announced previously. That is likely because at some point the Oscars are still hoping to set a deadline for their own exception when theaters begin to open in the late summer and early fall.
The Producers Guild of America was less detailed in how streaming and VOD films will be allowed to qualify for their Darryl F. Zanuck Award, but promised specifics would be included in revised rules distributed in the next few weeks.
In a statement, PGA Presidents Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher said, “Each year, the PGA has the privilege to honor outstanding achievements in our field and celebrate the inspiring producers behind them. The current realities mandate that we make the necessary adjustments so that every deserving producer has the opportunity for their hard work and excellence to be recognized.”
As theaters and film festivals remain effectively closed during this period, the number of films that may take advantage of these new rules has grown. Neon’s “Shirley,” Universal Pictures’ “The King of Staten Island,” Focus Features’ “The High Note,” Universal Pictures and DreamWorks’ “Trolls: World Tour,” Warner Bros.’ “Scoob!,” Walt Disney Studios and Disney+’s “Artemis Fowl,” Paramount Pictures and Netflix’s “The Lovebirds” and, just announced today, Apple TV+’s “Greyhound” will likely take advantage of the relaxed qualifications.