The music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences moved Friday to deflect a brewing controversy by postponing a ruling that would have disqualified for nomination a popular musical score.
Howard Shore, last year's Oscar winner for his music for "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," was notified earlier this week that his nearly three-hour score for "The Two Towers" was being ruled ineligible because it contained themes from the earlier film.
His was one of several sequel scores that were being disqualified under a tighter interpretation of an Oscar music rule that mandates the work be created specifically for the eligible film.
Executives at New Line Cinema, which distributes "The Two Towers," were furious. They said 88% of Shore's 160-minute "Two Towers" score was original.
The music branch executive committee, which makes these rulings, decided to postpone implementing the stricter rule until next year's Oscar campaign.
Shore, who had been preparing an appeal, was notified Friday afternoon that "The Two Towers" will remain eligible after all for this year's Oscar.
Said Charles Bernstein, music-branch governor: "Due to the lateness of the date, and the crunch that takes place at the end of the year, the committee felt that it would be much more fair to leave this year alone and apply the rule in a more clearly articulated form next year."
This means the list of eligible scores that accompanies Oscar ballots -- which were mailed Jan. 10 -- will not have to be amended.
The new, stricter rules would eliminate most future Harry Potter, "Star Wars," Indiana Jones, James Bond and other franchise films from consideration in the original-score category.