DOJ reportedly warns Academy about changing Oscar rules to exclude streaming

It seems that the Department of Justice has thoughts on whether Netflix movies should be eligible for Oscars.

Variety reports that the DOJ has sent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences a letter expressing concern about potential changes to the eligibility requirements for the awards.

Why is this something the DOJ would worry about? Apparently the letter says, “In the event that the Academy — an association that includes multiple competitors in its membership — establishes certain eligibility requirements for the Oscars that eliminate competition without procompetitive justification, such conduct may raise antitrust concerns.”

This comes after Netflix’s “Roma” was seen as a frontrunner for this year’s Best Picture award. And although it ultimately lost out to “Green Book,” the movie still took home Oscars for Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography.

Director Steven Spielberg is reportedly pushing for changes to the Oscar rules, perhaps by creating a requirement that movies play exclusively in theaters for four weeks in order to be eligible.

Spielberg hasn’t said anything publicly about these reports, and movie executive Jeffrey Katzenberg claimed that Spielberg told him, “I absolutely did not say that.” But it’s spurred a broader discussion about Netflix’s impact on the film business, and seems to have prompted Netflix to declare in a tweet, “We love cinema” — while also highlighting some of the ways the service makes movies more accessible.

Variety says the Academy confirmed that it has received a letter. (Update: The Academy has confirmed this to us as well.) Its Board of Governors will hold its annual award rules meeting on April 23.

We’ve reached out to the DOJ for comment and will update if we hear back.