Venerable as it may be, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is trying to keep up with the times. This year, finally–partly in response to the intense contracted award schedule this year, with the Oscars held February 9–the Academy alerted its members that those who can handle the technology will be able to view many Oscar contenders online, in time for the 2020 award season. Distributors must pay a charge of $12,500 per movie they upload for voters to sample (plus watermarking costs) through nominations and final voting. DVD screeners will still be supplied for members who are not tech-ready.
Documentaries, animated films, and shorts have already been made available for viewing on the Academy’s viewing site. The Academy is now adding narrative features via their own app, which will be on Apple TV (details below).
The exception is foreign-language films: Most of these films have no North American distributor. With a record 93 submissions this year, the international feature screenings will take place, as before, in Los Angeles, with participating voters signing in for a minimum of 15 Academy screenings (they can also see films in theaters and at festivals). Last year, overseas voters could screen the shortlist online, and all Academy voters could watch the final five nominated films online.
Stay tuned for news of a further expansion of foreign-language online voting as well.
“We want to make the move to online viewing,” Rubin told me in September. “There’s an endeavor to support the Academy’s efforts at being an international organization: Part of that is to connect with international filmmakers and international audiences. All of the efforts to enable people to see international feature films is with that goal in mind. This has never been the American Academy. While original commercial and popular filmmaking may be essentially American in origin, the motion-picture world is international.”
Here’s the letter that went to Academy members Wednesday:
Dear [Academy member]:
We are pleased to announce the expansion of the Academy’s streaming platform – Academy Screening Room – which will include films under consideration for the Best Picture category, including all of the achievements within a feature film. Our streaming platform will provide greater access to movies in consideration to our growing global membership, while taking positive steps toward a greener, more environmentally friendly future.
We encourage you to view as many films as possible during their theatrical release and at additional theatrical screenings made available. The Academy will continue to host member screenings in Los Angeles, New York, the Bay Area and London (schedule can be found [here]).
If you’re unable to make it to a theater, streaming is available [here].
From the member homepage, look for “Online Streaming” under the Screenings tab.
You can also access via the Academy Screening Room link. Once you enter your member username and password, it will direct you to the streaming page.
For the best viewing experience, use the latest version of Safari or Chrome browsers.
While there may be just a handful of streaming titles accessible at this point, more will be added in the coming weeks as distributors make them available. This is only the beginning.
If you would like to receive notifications for digital and/or DVD screeners (DVD screeners continue to be an option) from distributors as movies are made available, please Update Your Preferences.
In addition to the member site, the Academy is now offering the option to stream films via a new 4th generation Apple TV and Apple TV 4k app called Academy Screening Room.
If you have a 4th generation Apple TV or an Apple TV 4k, you can install the Academy Screening Room app from the App Store, then enter your Academy member username and password to access. Click here for more information on streaming, the new Apple TV 4 app and answers to technical questions you may have.
For technical support, please contact the Academy’s Support office at 855-742-9140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oscars will be held on February 9 (two weeks earlier than last year). Let’s start watching now.