Oscars Clarify Campaign Rules, Finally Adopt Best Picture Inclusion Standards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is instituting Oscars inclusion standards that were voted in three years ago by the AMPAS Board of Governors, the organization announced on Monday. But this year’s changes do not alter the rules governing the theatrical distribution of films in contention for the 96th Academy Awards.

For the last month, rumors have swirled that the board that was considering much more stringent qualifying rules that would require extensive theatrical runs and potentially hurt streamers like Netflix. But the 54 board members did not change the existing requirements in their annual meeting to review Oscar rules and campaign rules. As they did last year, films will still be able to qualify with a seven-day theatrical release in one of six cities, even if the film is released on VOD or streaming on the same day as its theatrical premiere.

The board is now believed to be considering the subject of new theatrical regulations — but for the 97th Academy Awards in 2025, not for the 96th Oscars in 2024. (A change for movies released this year would have required exceptions to be made for films that have already been released under the old rules.)

The biggest change to Oscar eligibility is one that was originally announced in 2020, with a three-year delay to allow filmmakers and studios time to adjust to the new requirements. In order to qualify in the Best Picture category, 2023 films will need to submit a Representation and Inclusion Entry Form (RAISE) that shows they met inclusion and diversity standards in two out of four areas: On-Screen Representation, Themes and Narratives; Creative Leadership and Project Team; Industry Access and Opportunities; and Audience Development.

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Each area contains multiple ways to qualify, including casting lead or supporting actors from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups; hiring two department heads who are women, from racial or ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ or have cognitive or physical disabilities; giving paid internships to women or underrepresented groups; or having more than one in-house senior executive from an underrepresented group in the company releasing the film.

Almost all of the Best Picture nominees over the last three years would have qualified under those requirements. The full standards are here.

Other changes for the 2023 Oscars include two submission dates for films: Sept. 15 for films released between Jan. 1 and June 30 and Nov. 15 for films released from July 1 to Dec. 31. In the Best International Feature Film category, the selection committee from each country that chooses that country’s Oscar submission must now be made up of at least 50% filmmakers, while voting in the Best Live Action Short Film category will now be open to any members who wish to opt-in. (Previously, only members of the Short Films and Feature Animation and Directors Branches were eligible to vote in the nominating round.)

The Oscar Campaign Regulations underwent significant clarification, prompted by the controversy over the “grassroots” campaign that resulted in a Best Actress nomination for Andrea Riseborough earlier this year. When the Academy opted not to discipline Riseborough herself for a social-media campaign that found some of her supporters violating existing rules, it also promised to clarify its campaign regulations.

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The new regulations allow private events and gatherings, as long as motion picture companies do not fund, organize or endorse those events; spell out that social media and direct communication to members cannot discuss voting decisions, preferences or strategies; limit the number of “hosted” screenings to four in the pre-nomination phase and none post-nominations, but allow an unlimited number of Q&A screenings; place additional restrictions on Academy governors in the campaign stage; and eliminate all physical forms of outreach – no letters, postcards, screening schedules, etc. All communication can only be sent digitally through “an Academy-approved mailing house.”

The rules also spell out penalties and establish a process for reporting possible violations.

Complete rules and campaign regulations are available at oscars.org/rules.

Here are the dates for 2023:

Tuesday, August 15, 2023: First submission deadline for Animated Short Film, Documentary Feature Film, Documentary Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories
Friday, September 15, 2023: First submission deadline for Animated Feature Film and General Entry categories
Monday, October 2, 2023: Final submission deadline for Documentary Feature Film and International Feature Film categories
Monday, October 16, 2023: Final submission deadline for Animated Short Film, Documentary Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories
Wednesday, November 1, 2023: Final submission deadline for Music (Original Score) and Music (Original Song) categories
Wednesday, November 15, 2023: Final submission deadline for Animated Feature Film and General Entry categories
Saturday, January 13, 2024: Visual Effects nominating screening (bake-off)
Sunday, January 14, 2024: Makeup and Hairstyling nominating screening and Sound nominating screening (bake-offs)