The Directors Guild of America (DGA) announced Tuesday that any film released after June 15, 2021 must have an exclusive theatrical run of seven days in order to be considered for 2022 DGA Awards.
This news comes a month after AMPAS confirmed they will continue to honor last year’s temporary rule changes regarding theatrical vs. day-and-date releases. The suspension of key eligibility rules was embraced across the industry in 2020 as the pandemic forced the worldwide shut down of movie theaters. Even while theaters are reopening, some studios such as Warner Bros. have already opted to open their entire 2021 slate with a day-and-date release schedule.
In a statement from the DGA, President Thomas Schlamme said:
After over a year of darkness, theater marquees lighting up across our nation have been a welcome sight for our healing communities. We celebrate the return of the important role that theatrical cinema plays in bringing together audiences as they collectively experience films as the filmmakers intended them to be viewed.
With the DGA becoming the first guild to restore the theatrical release rule, the industry will wait to see whether others will follow, or if they will stick with the Academy’s alternative. The reason for the June 15th starting point is that theaters in Los Angeles and New York fully reopened that day.
Some of the titles that will be excluded from DGA eligibility include the upcoming Disney films Black Widow and The Jungle Cruise, both of which will premiere on Disney+ the same day as theaters, Apple TV+’s CODA, and Warner Bros films such as Space Jam 2 and the highly anticipated Dune from Denis Villeneuve, which are currently scheduled for release on HBOMax alongside theaters.
DGA nominations are not a prerequisite for Academy Award nominations, but they certainly help. The likeliest victim of this rule change is also the film most likely to prompt its studio to alter its release. Villeneuve’s Dune is one of the most eagerly awaited films of 2021 and is expected to do well with critics, guilds, and the Academy. Will Warner Bros. push back the HBOMax release and give the film a seven-day exclusive in theaters? Or will they shrug their shoulders at the DGA and forge ahead? Villeneuve’s last film, Blade Runner 2049 earned five Oscar nominations, winning two. The year before that, he was nominated for Best Director for Arrival, which also earned seven other nominations, including Best Picture. Villeneuve was also nominated for a DGA Award for that film.
The 74th Directors Guild Awards will follow the Academy’s eligibility period, considering films released between March 1 and December 31, 2021. The DGA Awards will take place March 12, 2022.