Films that have not been released in cinemas could be considered for a Bafta awards for the first time next year.
Publishing its rules for the 2017 awards, Bafta said “films should have been screened to the widest possible public paying UK audience”.
However, those released digitally only could be in the running “in exceptional circumstances”.
The Bafta Film Awards will take place on 12 February, with nominations announced on 10 January.
The guidelines state that films that had not received a UK release, which could include video-on-demand films, would only be considered “at the committee’s discretion”.
‘Respond to reality’
Bafta’s head of film Jim Bradshaw told Variety the film committee wanted “the primary distribution route to remain to be through cinemas” and that they would be “biased towards that”.
But he added: “We have to respond to the reality that – particularly for independent films and the non-British independent films coming into the UK – theatrical release is less common and digital distribution is becoming more and more the norm.”
Eligible films for the 2017 Baftas should have been released for at least a week on at least 10 screens in the UK – with more relaxed rules for documentaries, non-English language films and debut features.
All films up for contention must have a running time of 70 minutes or longer, and cannot be filmed versions of live performances or have previously been entered for the awards.