Oscars introducing strict new diversity eligibility rules for Best Picture

In order to be eligible to win the biggest prize in the film industry from 2024, a movie will have to pass a strict set of diversity rules.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says its new representation and inclusion standards for the Best Picture category are "designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience".

Films eligible for the Oscar for Best Picture will have to include people from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations or disability groups.

Those people don't necessarily have to be visible on screen in the film - they can be involved with its production or marketing.

The new rules are sure to trigger controversy, with the Oscars already deemed a liberal event that has been sharply criticised by many right-wing commentators and figureheads, famously including Donald Trump.

In recent years, the lack of diversity at the Oscars also caused controversy, with #OscarsSoWhite trending in 2015 after all 20 acting nominations went to white actors for the first of two consecutive years.

The newly announced rules for Best Picture are the latest in a series of moves by the Academy to create a more diverse awards show.

"We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry," said Academy's president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement.  

"The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality."

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the next Oscars to the latest date in the show's history - April 25, 2021.