BAFTA is changing the rules for its Best Film category

Picture of BAFTA award trophies
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Films hoping to compete for the big prize in 2025 will need to play in five times the number of UK cinemas after the association makes changes to its eligibility criteria.

BAFTA have made another step to hedge up support for theatrical releases in the face of increasing streaming awards dominance by increasing the minimum number of screenings a film requires to stay eligible for its top prize.

Current rules state that, for a film to be BAFTA-eligible, it must be shown for a minimum of 10 screenings per day for at least seven consecutive days.

From 2025’s ceremony though (which will take into account films released from 1st January 2024), films must play on at least 50 commercial screens in the UK for at least seven days.

The move will have greatest impact on streamers like Netflix, who frequently give releases the minimum possible theatrical distributions to leave them in the running for big prizes. Apple TV+, who gave wide releases to Killers Of The Flower Moon and Napoleon this year despite funding them primarily for the streaming market, will no doubt be feeling pretty pleased with themselves.

BAFTA says it made the amendment after consulting with UK distributors, heads of UK studios, exhibitors, streamers, programmers, industry representative bodies, and British production funding bodies, and will release new guidance for its other film categories next summer.

Anna Higgs, Chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee, said: “Our expanded theatrical screenings requirement will ensure film fans up and down the country have more opportunities to see Best Film contenders on the big screen, so they can join in the discussion and awards excitement along with BAFTA voters. Developed in consultation with a wide range of industry stakeholders, we’re pleased to confirm this update ahead of the eligibility window for the 2025 BAFTAs opening on 1 January 2024.”

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