Films initially made available via commercial streaming or VOD service will be eligible for Oscars' Best Picture, "until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only", the organisers announced in a statement on Tuesday.
"The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater. Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering. Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules", Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a joint statement.
These exemption rules will no longer apply as soon as movie theatres are open again.
The new coronavirus has infected more than 3 million people globally and claimed the lives of over 216,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University count. On 11 March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.