The eligibility period was previously announced as Academy Awards consideration returns to the standard December 31 deadline. A feature film must have a qualifying release date between March 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021.
Theatrical exhibition is still being impacted by the pandemic this year. As such, the Oscars eligibility requirements for the 94th Academy Awards will be consistent with the addendums made for the 93rd Awards season and can be found here. If a film opens in theaters, it must play in one of the six qualifying U.S. metropolitan areas: Los Angeles County; the City of New York; the Bay Area; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia. This rule applies to General Entry categories as well as the Documentary and Short Film categories. Following this year, the Academy intends to expand the qualifying requirements for the 95th Awards.
Beginning with the 94th Academy Awards, the Best Picture category will be set at 10 nominees, rather than a fluctuating number of nominations from year to year. This was previously announced in June 2020.
In the International Feature Film category, key rule amendments made in the preliminary round of voting for the 93rd Awards and approved in January 2021 remain unchanged. This includes an expanded shortlist of 15 films and members from all Academy branches being invited to opt in and participate in the preliminary and nominations rounds of voting. Members must meet a minimum viewing requirement to be eligible to vote in the category.
The Board of Governors approved other rules changes for the 94th Awards including:
- In the Sound category, there will now be a preliminary round of voting for the Sound award to determine a shortlist of 10 films. Prior to nominations voting, Sound Branch members will be invited to a presentation of the shortlisted achievements, similar to the process in the Visual Effects and Makeup & Hairstyling categories. The entire Sound Branch will vote to select the shortlist as well as nominations.
- In the Music (Original Score) category, for a score to be eligible, it must comprise a minimum of 35% of the total music in the film, lowered from 60%.
- In the Music (Original Song) category, no more than five songs from any one film may be submitted.
- In the Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film categories, the shortlist will expand from 10 to 15 films.
Submission deadlines are as follows:
- Documentary Short Subject – Friday, October 15, 2021
- Animated Short Film – Friday, October 15, 2021
- Live Action Short Film – Friday, October 15, 2021
- Animated Feature Film – Monday, November 1, 2021
- Documentary Feature – Monday, November 1, 2021
- International Feature Film – Monday, November 1, 2021
- Original Score – Monday, November 1, 2021
- Original Song – Monday, November 1, 2021
- General Entry categories – Monday, November 15, 2021
Campaign regulations, which specify how companies and individuals may market to Academy members any movies and achievements eligible for the 94th Academy Awards, were also updated. As a reminder, the mailings of DVDs, CDs and physical screenplays are discontinued starting this year. Access to the Academy Screening Room will continue to be made available for all eligible releases. Digital links to materials will be permitted.