8:00am PT by Chris Gardner
Early Oscars 2020 Date Sparks Anxiety: "There Goes Summer Break"
Amid the outrage about the Academy's announcement of a "popular film" Oscar for 2019 (a plan that was scotched), another change revealed that same day largely escaped notice — the ceremony's move up to Feb. 9 for 2020. Now, with this year's trophies all handed out and the race to 2020 officially underway, people are noticing.
"You're going to have no room to breathe," says one veteran strategist of the shortened awards season. “You’re going to be in the deep end from the beginning.”
While the earlier date won't impact all festivals — Sundance is sticking to its late-January timetable — it will wreak havoc on a slew of smaller events that find their relevance as campaign stops. The BAFTA Awards will take place Feb. 2 (after taking place Feb. 10 this year); the Santa Barbara Film Festival is scheduled for Jan. 15-25 (after taking place Jan. 30-Feb. 9 this year); and the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which typically kicks off at the start of the new year in January with the year’s big red carpet return, will run from Jan. 3-13 in 2020, with the starry awards gala set for Jan. 2.
The source added that the reason why the Academy’s move has such a ripple effect is that all of these other events “try to muscle in and bill themselves as being predictive or precursor events. They try to add relevance to the Academy, but the Oscars is really the only big show. It’s like the Super Bowl. The teams play for months and while the games can be great, the only thing that matters is who is there in the final and who wins.”
Another strategist slams the Academy for coming up with “another cockamamie” idea that “affects every film festival, every awards show, every airline ticket, every hotel reservation, every Q&A, every movie release, every screening.” The source added: “I’m shocked that there isn’t a bigger outcry. I don’t think everyone fully understands what the ramifications are going to be. What are they going to accomplish? Two weeks less of partying. Fine, but now what is going to happen is that the minute the Cannes Film Festival is over in May, people will start campaigning. There goes summer break and forget about having a holiday break in December.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.