Oscars 2022 Ceremony Moves To Late March, Keeps Pandemic Qualifying Rules

Next year's Oscars will keep a later spring ceremony date and the pandemic qualifying rules of this past year. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the Oscars 2022 rules, which will allow streaming movies to qualify for Best Picture, indicating that it might be the start of permanent changes that will expand eligibility of films who hope to qualify for the awards.

Variety reports that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is pushing back the ceremony for the 94th Academy Awards from its originally scheduled airdate of Feburary 27 to March 27, 2022, keeping the ceremony in the spring after this year's Oscars were held in April.

And like this year's Oscars, the Academy is keeping the pandemic year rules, expanding eligibility requirements — like films that debut on streaming or VOD services — though returning to the standard calendar year. This means that for a feature film to qualify for Best Picture and other general entry categories, it will have to be released between March 1 and December 31. Last year, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Academy expanded eligibility to films released until February 28, 2021, allowing movies like Judas and the Black Messiah and The United States vs. Billie Holiday to slide in.

The big question is: is the Academy keeping these pandemic qualifying rules because things haven't completely returned to normal yet? Theaters are mostly reopened and successful vaccine rollout is encouraging audiences back to theaters, while the theatrical slate is almost as full as pre-COVID times. Per Variety, the Academy "signaled that some of these addendums could become permanent." The Academy announced its intention to expand qualifying requirements for the 2023 Oscars ceremony, with many speculating that films that debut on streaming could land a permanent place in the Academy's rulebook. With the accelerated rise of streaming platforms amid the pandemic, and with the surge in original movies made strictly for those platforms, that seems like a wise decision.

The Academy's Board of Governors approved to adopt the addendums made for the 2021 Oscars season. Here are the two methods for a feature to qualify for best picture and general entry categories:

  • Films which are intended for theatrical release, but are initially made available through commercial streaming, VOD service, or other broadcast may qualify under these provisions:
  • That the film be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member site within 60 days of the film's streaming/VOD release or broadcast
  • That it meets all other eligibility requirements
  • Films that open in theaters in at least one of the six qualifying U.S. cities, depending on theater availability, may qualify under these provisions:
  • That the film completes a qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days in the same commercial venue, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily, with at least one screening beginning between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily
  • That it meets all other eligibility requirements
  • Six qualifying U.S. cities include: Los Angeles County; City of New York [Five Boroughs]; the Bay Area [counties of San Francisco, Marin, Alameda, San Mateo and Contra Costa]; Chicago [Cook County, Illinois]; Miami [Miami-Dade County, Florida]; and Atlanta [Fulton
  • County, Georgia].

  • Drive-in theaters are included as a qualifying commercial venue in the above cities (must run for seven consecutive days with at least one screening daily)
  • Academy Screening Room would be optional
  • The key dates for next year's Oscars include a general entry categories submission deadline of November 15 2021, nominations voting in January and February 2022, and the end of final voting on March 22 2022. The complete rules and specialty category submission deadlines will be announced in June.