Netflix, streaming services win Oscars cinema-rule battle

VIDEO: REUTERS
In a triumph for Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted not to change its rules for winning an Oscar.
In a triumph for Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted not to change its rules for winning an Oscar.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - In a triumph for Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted not to change its rules for winning an Oscar.

The decision follows a battle over how long a movie must play on the big screens in theatres before it is launched on the Internet, DVD and other media.

The Academy's board of governors said on Tuesday (April 23) that the existing rules, which say a movie has to run in a theatre for only seven days in Los Angeles to qualify, had won.

"We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions," academy president John Bailey said.

Some theatre owners say short runs at a theatre mean more people will stay at home to watch movies.

And movie producers including Steven Spielberg have said movies that are shown primarily on the small screen should compete only for television awards, such as the Emmys.

In February, Netflix won three Oscars for Roma, which streamed three weeks after a limited theatrical debut.

Netflix tweeted that it "loved cinema" but also supported access for people who cannot afford, or do not live close to, theatres.

Others said consumers are happy with the current system.

Ticket sales in 2018 reached a record US$41 billion (S$56 billion) globally and US$12 billion in the United States and Canada, even as Netflix released about 90 movies for streaming.

Mr Bailey said the rule could be revisited next year.

"We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues," he said.