Films shown at drive-in cinemas will be eligible for the Oscars in 2021, the Academy has announced.

The new rule has been approved by its board of governors for the best picture and general entry categories following the closure of movie theatres due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after a move announced in April to allow films streamed online to be in the running. At the time, Oscars organisers said it would be a “temporary exception”.

Cinemas around the world were closed as the COVID-19 crisis hit but had been slowly reopening in recent weeks.

Grease at The Drive-In Club. Pic: Grease/Paramount/Park Circus
Image:
Grease is the ultimate drive-in film. Pic: Grease/Paramount/Park Circus

However, following renewed delays to key releases – such as new James Bond film No Time To Die – Cineworld announced this week that its screens will now be closed until 2021.

Separately, rival cinema chain Odeon revealed it is to switch to weekend-only opening at a quarter of its 120 sites.

The release of films including the new Batman outing and sci-fi story Dune have also been delayed in what has been a huge blow for cinema chains.

And when it comes to the ceremony itself, next year’s Oscars event has been pushed back from February to 25 April 2021.

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Drive-in cinemas are popular in the US and were trialled in the UK over the summer.

However, many events – as well as drive-in gigs, too – were later cancelled due to local lockdowns which came into force.

The new rule states that a theatrical run of only seven days is needed in one of at least six qualifying areas – Los Angeles County, City of New York, the Bay area of California (counties of San Francisco, Marin, Alameda, San Mateo and Contra Costa, Chicago) Miami and Atlanta – and that drive-in theatres qualify as a commercial venue.



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