Though they've previously announced plans to open up the playing field for potential nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences might postpone next years Oscar ceremony. Variety reports that The Academy is considering this option but that "definitive plans are far from being concrete" at this time. Currently set to be broadcast on February 28, 2021, they still have quite a bit of time before a decision would need to be made but one source told the trade: “It’s likely they’ll be postponed." Many questions remain in place about what will happen with the ceremony should they decide to postpone but for the time being there are few answers for the scenario, including at The Academy themselves.
A rule change from The Academy for next year's ceremony was announced about three weeks ago allowing for films that premiere on streaming services and not in theaters to compete for Oscar gold. This normally wouldn't be allowed under The Academy rules, which normally require a week long theatrical engagement in order to compete. Now in order for films to be eligible for nomination a film simply had to have a "previously planned theatrical release." This means films like Trolls World Tour and Tigertail can now compete for awards, despite being released directly online (much to the chagrin of exhibitors).
“The Academy firmly believes there is no greater way to experience the magic of movies than to see them in a theater," Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson previously said about the rule change. "Our commitment to that is unchanged and unwavering. Nonetheless, the historically tragic COVID-19 pandemic necessitates this temporary exception to our awards eligibility rules. The Academy supports our members and colleagues during this time of uncertainty. We recognize the importance of their work being seen and also celebrated, especially now, when audiences appreciate movies more than ever."
The Golden Globes also made a similar rule change for their 2021 ceremony but stipulated that digital screeners for every film that wants to contend must be made available to voters, something The Academy is also requiring.
Though just speculation, it seems likely that one reason The Academy would delay having the ceremony until later in 2021 is to allow for a wider crop of films to be released, including films that would traditionally be favorites at The Oscars. Despite many fan favorite movies having been released in the early part of 2020, so far very few prestige dramas or "Oscar bait" movies have been released this year, though several hopefuls remain on the schedule.
Former Oscar nominee Christopher Nolan has his new movie Tenet still set to arrive in theaters this July. November and December are still bookmarked to see the release of new films from Oscar winners Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) and Tom McCarthy (Stillwater), and former Oscar nominees Denis Villeneuve (Dune), Ridley Scott (The Last Duel), and Paul Greengrass (News of the World); so a fresh crop of Oscar hopeful films are still on the horizon if a delay isn't announced.
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