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As a result of the global pandemic, the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony has been pushed back from Feb. 28 to April 25, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and its Oscars broadcasting partner ABC announced on Monday. In turn, the Oscars eligibility period for feature films — which began on Jan. 1, 2020, and was set to expire at the end of Dec. 31, 2020 — has been extended to Feb. 28, 2021. The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported on Sunday that this was set to happen.
While highly unusual, these moves are not unprecedented. The Oscars has been delayed three times before — due to L.A. flooding in 1938; following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968; and after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. And, as I noted back in March, the Oscars eligibility window was extended beyond the traditional 12-month period once before, ahead of the sixth Oscars. (That ceremony, in March 1934, was preceded by a 17-month eligibility window spanning Aug. 1, 1932, through Dec. 31, 1933, so that thereafter the eligibility period could be the actual calendar year preceding each ceremony, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.)
In a statement, the Academy indicated that the Oscars will still be held “at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood” and “will air live on ABC,” an apparent rejection of the possibility of a pre-taped and/or virtual gathering. And the Academy emphasized, “The intent going forward is to ultimately return to awarding excellence for films released in the January-December calendar year.”
A number of other major changes were also announced.
The Oscar submission deadline for general entry categories — among them best picture, original score and original song — is now Jan. 15, 2021. The submission deadline for specialty categories — best animated feature, documentary feature, international feature, animated short, documentary short and live-action short — is now Dec. 1, 2020. Oscar shortlist voting will now run from Feb. 1 through Feb. 5; nomination voting will now run from March 5 through March 10 (nominations will be announced on March 15); and final voting will now run from April 15 through April 20.
Meanwhile, the Academy’s annual Governors Awards, a gala dinner, usually held in the second week of November, at which the organization, for the past 11 years, has presented honorary Oscars and, in some years, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, will not take place this fall. “Additional information about the ceremony and selection of honorees will be provided at a later time,” the Academy said, suggesting that honorees may still be chosen and feted ahead of or even at the Oscars ceremony.
And the Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards presentation, which was scheduled for a June 20, 2020 ceremony in Beverly Hills, has been postponed to a later date still to be determined.
Additionally, the Academy also announced two key dates pertaining to its long-gestating Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which was previously expected to open on Dec. 14, 2020. It will now be unveiled to a select audience at a gala event a few days ahead of the Oscars, on April 17, and will open to the public a few days after the Oscars, on April 30.
“For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring and entertaining us during the darkest of times,” Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control. This coming Oscars and the opening of our new museum will mark an historic moment, gathering movie fans around the world to unite through cinema.”
Karey Burke, ABC Entertainment’s president, added, “We find ourselves in uncharted territory this year and will continue to work with our partners at the Academy to ensure next year’s show is a safe and celebratory event that also captures the excitement of the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.”
And Academy Museum director Bill Kramer chimed in, “I speak for all of us at the Museum when I say that we have been eagerly awaiting the moment when we can share the Academy Museum with movie lovers everywhere. With the unprecedented and devastating pandemic happening around the world and our commitment first and foremost to the health and safety of our visitors and staff, we have made the difficult decision to wait a few more months to open our doors. Thankfully, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, exhibitions continue to be installed. We look forward to April 2021 when Los Angeles and the world will be able to join together as the Academy celebrates the Oscars and the opening of its long-dreamed-of Museum.”
Here is a full breakdown of the revised key dates related to the 93rd Academy Awards and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures…
Preliminary voting begins
Monday, February 1, 2021
Preliminary voting ends
Friday, February 5, 2021
Oscar Shortlists Announcement
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Nominations voting begins
Friday, March 5, 2021
Nominations voting ends
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Oscar Nominations Announcement
Monday, March 15, 2021
Oscar Nominees Luncheon
Thursday April 15, 2021
Finals voting begins
Thursday April 15, 2021
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Finals voting ends
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Sunday, April 25, 2021
Museum Public Opening
Friday, April 30, 2021
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