Today I read in Filmmaker Magazine how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences stated in a recent newsletter that it was considering making films released day & date theatrically and in other formats ineligible for Oscar consideration. The article went on to say how such a ruling would be a big blow in favor of the studios in stifling indie competition.
Wow. I could go on and on about just how cheap such a ploy would be against the indies (small indies, at least, since the larger ones and studio-based specialty divisions would definitely maintain their theatrical runs first). Day & date is just the release strategy necessary to give some smaller indies the chance of financial profit, and perhaps the only way some of them will ever see any theatrical release in addition to video / television / internet. Should these films be forced to take themselves out of Oscar contention so that they can see some financial success?
But what really blew my mind was the backward thinking such a rule entails. We live in a day when web and mobile delivered video is taking off to such a degree that the networks are posting episodes of their series on broadband immediately after airing. Why be narrow-minded? I understand wanting to protect the theatrical experience in the face of declining attendance–after all, when done right, there is no better way to watch a movie than in a theatre. But with that goal in mind, wouldn’t it be better to make theatrical distribution as accessible to as many films as possible? I won’t even start into my rant and rave about what needs to be done to improve the audience’s viewing experience (and how that would in turn improve attendance).
The Oscars, if any change is to be made, should strive to honor and reward achievement in filmmaking at all levels, no matter how it is distributed.