Cinemas have been closed for the past month now, and various major movie titles have delayed their release date.

With so many movies unable to reach audiences via theatrical release, the Oscars are adjusting their eligibility rules.

Traditionally, a film had to play for at least seven days in a Los Angeles commercial cinema to qualify for the Academy Awards.

However, the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that movies which debuted via video on demand will still be eligible for the Oscars.

The change of rules apply specifically to films that originally intended to hit cinemas; but had to be moved because of cinema closures. The film must also be made available on the Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming/VOD release. (DVD mailers for viewing purposes will be banned after this year)

When cinemas re-open, the original rules for eligibility will once again be in effect. They will be modified though to include more parts of the United States other than LA.

Qualifying theatre venues will be in New York City, the Bay Area, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta.

Movies that have already streamed will not have to be subsequently released in theaters.

"The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theatre," Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. "Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering.

"The Academy supports our members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty. We recognise the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever."

The announcement included another change to the Oscars, regarding categories.

Sound editing and sound mixing will now fall under one award. Thus there will be 23 categories in all.

The Oscars take place on 28 February, 2021.