This year documentary films exploded onto the scene, primarily thanks to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 and also to the rules the Academy has put forth with their theatrical exhibition requirements for documentary films, which were instituted in 2003 at the branch’s request to encourage commercial theatrical runs for documentary films.
However there was a couple of issues with this over the past year as some of the films bumped up against the television blackout provisions of the rule and were thereby prevented from having a television exhibition until a nine-month time period had expired.
Well, that has all been changed as it was announced today that the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences changed the 2005 rules to reduce the blackout window to six months.
To qualify for exemption a film must have had a minimum of 25 commercial exhibitions for paid admission in motion picture theaters in 15 states, each exhibition to be at least two consecutive days. (Exhibitions held at festivals, benefits, special events and the like do not qualify under this provision.)
The 2005 rules also contain a provision requiring that short documentaries “must be contractually available for theatrical release for six months after receiving a nomination” unless they have met the test for the new blackout exemption.