THE body behind the Oscars has changed its rules so films that debut on streaming or video on demand services are eligible for next year's awards.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' current rules say a film can only enter if they have been shown in a Los Angeles cinema for at least a week.
But with cinemas shut during the coronavirus crisis, organisers said a "temporary" exception was necessary.
Many film releases have been delayed, with others going straight to digital.
"The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theatre," said Academy president David Rubin and chief executive Dawn Hudson.
"Nonetheless, the historically tragic Covid-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules."
The Academy said the exemption would end when cinemas reopen.
In recent years, the Oscars have admitted films made by streaming services like Netflix and Amazon - but only if they have also had a cinema release.
The rule change comes amid an escalating row about how films are released.
Universal Pictures recently launched Trolls World Tour online and brought forward the on-demand release date of some other titles.
The movie studio has since suggested this policy will continue after cinemas reopen, prompting one major chain to say it would ban its films in its cinemas.
Such a boycott would have an impact on such future Universal releases as Fast & Furious 9 and James Bond film No Time to Die.
They are both among the blockbusters that have had their scheduled releases put back as a result of the pandemic.
Before the current upheaval, studios waited 90 days after a cinema opening to release their films digitally.
Universal has arguably led the way in changing this model by recently bringing forward the VOD releases of such titles as Emma, The Hunt and The Invisible Man.
Recent UK releases like Military Wives and Misbehaviour have also been released digitally much earlier than would have normally been the case.
Meanwhile, as well as changing its rules to accommodate streamed films, the Academy has also decided to merge its two sound awards into a single category.
From 2021, there will be a single award for best sound instead of separate awards for sound mixing and sound editing.
The 93rd Academy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on February 28 2021.
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