In what seems like the first of what will be many similar announcements as the coronavirus pandemic goes on, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced that it’s suspending some of the eligibility rules it uses to determine which movies can quality for Golden Globe nominations. This comes from The Wrap, which says movies that had their theatrical runs suspended due to the virus are still eligible, and exhibitors will no longer need to hold “official screenings” with HFPA members in attendance. This is all temporary and should only cover movies that would’ve come out between March 15 and April 30, but the HFPA could extend the change to the rules and will review the eligibility of films from this period “on a case-by-case basis.”
The way it used to work, or rather the way it normally works, is that movies have to hold a screening for HFPA members “in the greater Los Angeles area” within a week of when the movie opened in theaters. Now, movie distribution companies will still have to schedule a “screening date” for HFPA members, but instead of an actual screening they will just be in charge of distributing screeners to “all members of the organization.”
One could argue that the HFPA is still instituting weirdly specific rules on which movies are eligible, and the wording of some of this suggests that the organization could still reject certain movies, but at this point we’ll give the HFPA whatever it needs in order to retain some sense of normalcy. If making it complicated to decide what movies are and are not eligible for an award is the way to do it, then that’s the way we’re doing it.
The Wrap also notes that the Academy’s Board Of Governors is currently “in the process of evaluating” how the coronavirus and the theater closures will impact Oscars eligibility, but it’s not expected to make a decision until October.