For the fourth straight year, the Oscar-nominated short films in the live-action and animated categories will play in U.S. theatres. This year’s crop, which will ultimately be seen in about 60 theatres nationwide, will open on 2.6.09, or roughly 16 days before the 81st Academy Awards telecast on 2.22.09.

Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures are the entities behind the release. A press release says that the short films “have charted a dramatic 223% increase in attendance at U.S. theatres since the [program’s] launch in 2006. Together with the theatrical run, the nominated short films will also be released on iTunes on 2.17.