Films that are only released on streaming services will now be eligible for a BAFTA film award. Previously, the awards – like the Oscars – only allowed films with a theatrical release to be considered, but the rules have just changed.
From 2017, the BAFTA film awards will accept for consideration films released exclusively on video-on-demand platforms. These will be considered on a case by case basis, and will be the exception, rather than the rule.
"This is to do with making sure that we continue to recognise the best in filmmaking and not penalise films, especially international content, because of how it is funded or who has picked it up in the UK," Jim Bradshaw, BAFTA's head of film, told Variety.
"We don't expect this to be a massive change, we don't expect this to open the floodgates in terms of number of entries or anything like that, but it is just a response to [a conversation the committee has been having]... Distribution models are changing very, very rapidly, and we have to be open to looking at things that are not the norm and different to how distribution has been in the past."
The awards couldn't really have ignored the fact that Amazon and Netflix are fast becoming powerful film production houses. In recent months, Netflix alone has given birth to films like Idris Elba's 'Beasts of No Nation' and Ricky Gervais' 'Special Correspondents'.
Some films made by streaming services do have a theatrical release too, no matter how limited. But this rule change means that streaming-only films have a fair chance of winning a BAFTA.
The BAFTAs – or, to give it its full title, the EE British Academy Film Awards 2017 – will take place on Sunday, February 12th. Nominations will be announced on January 10th.