The Directors Guild of America has set March 12, 2022 as the date for its 74th awards and with some changes post-pandemic.
In the DGA Theatrical Feature Film category, the org has reinstated the exclusive theatrical release element that was suspended last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the film industry. Like the Oscars, all guilds last season extended eligibility two months into 2021 as well as temporarily eschewed the theatrical exhibition requirement to allow films ‘intended’ for theaters but that were forced to premiere digitally to compete. The eligibility period for the DGA’s top film award runs from March 1 to Dec. 31, 2021, the same as the Oscars this year.
The 2019 rule requires that films released after June 15, 2021 must have an exclusive theatrical run of at least seven days prior to any other exhibition. Movies released via other distribution platforms, such as streaming services, on the same “day and date” they hit theaters, are not DGA-eligible. For theatrical feature films released between March 1 and June 14, 2021, the pandemic exception will still apply.
“After over a year of darkness, theater marquees lighting up across our nation have been a welcome sight for our healing communities,” said DGA president Thomas Schlamme. “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.”
That raises questions for how Warner Bros choice, to premiere their 2021 films in theaters and on HBO Max day and date will reconcile with this announcement, especially with their expected major player Dune, which is set for October 22. One way to avoid this would be something that studios essentially already do, or did in the before times; give the film a qualifying release. While that normally happens sometime in December before the year-end cutoff, Warner Bros can premiere the film in theaters for one week via paid preview screenings or an IMAX release before its official release on the 22nd. It might be a bit of a grey area but it’s a more likely scenario than the studio backtracking on its day/date commitment they set forth in late 2020.
A date for DGA nominations has not yet been revealed. The March 12 DGA Awards are now the day before the BAFTAs and two weeks before the 94th Academy Awards.
At the 2020 DGA Awards, Chloé Zhao took home the Theatrical Feature Film Award for Nomadland, which also earned her this year’s Academy Award for Best Director. It was only the second time in the history of either group that a woman has won. The first for both was Kathryn Bigelow for 2009’s The Hurt Locker.
Darius Marder won the First-Time Feature Film Award for Sound of Metal, Scott Frank won the Movies for Television and Limited Series category for The Queen’s Gambit (which faces Emmy competition this summer), and Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw won the Documentary Award for The Truffle Hunters, despite not being Oscar-nominated.