The award is only given if there are at least eight animated feature films (with a theatrical release in Los Angeles). For the purposes of the award, only films over 70 minutes long are considered to be "feature films". If there are 16 or more films submitted for the category, the winner will be voted from a shortlist of five films, otherwise there will only be three films on the shortlist.
People in the animation industry and fans expressed hope that the prestige from this award and the resulting boost to the box office would encourage the increased production of animated features. Some members and fans however criticize the award, saying it is only intended to prevent animated films from having a chance of winning Best Picture. Official Academy Award regulations state that any movie nominated for this category can still be nominated for Best Picture. Nevertheless, psychological effects may prevent nominations or serve to suppress protests of an animated film's lack of a Best Picture nomination, much like the Oscars for Best Foreign Language film and Best Documentary Feature.
Since the Academy gives out this award, the Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards followed the example.