Despite the fact that almost four decades have passed since the last Oscars delay, the postponement of this year’s ceremony feels like par for the course in 2020, a period where exceptional occurrences have become the norm.
The move had been predicted by many industry pundits for some time due to the fragile state of the film industry, which has been severely shaken by cinema closures and suspended productions all over the world.
Serious changes were inevitable if Hollywood’s most prestigious night was to continue, but what do these rule tweaks and deadline extensions actually mean for this year’s most acclaimed releases?
Let’s break it down…
Which films will be eligible for Oscars this year?
In previous years, the Academy has been very strict about which films are eligible for Oscar consideration, chiefly specifying that they must have been released in one or more Los Angeles cinemas for at least a week.
It’s for this reason that streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have had to work hard to forge a path into the awards circuit, as it has been designed to support traditional methods of film distribution.
That’s what makes it so remarkable that the Oscars have (temporarily) lifted this restriction, meaning that movies released directly to streaming and on-demand platforms, such as Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, will be eligible at this year’s show.
This allowance responds to the need for some films to be made available for purchase during lockdown, particularly those from independent studios most reliant on having a steady income.
The delay of this year’s ceremony has also come with an extended deadline for Oscar hopefuls, moving from the usual 31st December to the later date of 28th February.
This will be hugely beneficial to films that have wrapped shooting and are currently in post-production, giving extra time to editors who may well be working from home.
Likewise, it could lend an assist to big budget movies planning an awards campaign in 2021, as studios have shown reluctance to release these tent pole pictures directly to online services due to the financial risks involved.
Needless to say, everything is uncertain at the moment and its not clear when exactly things will go back to normal, but it is possible that cinemas could be operating on a larger scale again by February.
Will this affect how and when films are released?
While it’s hard to know exactly what film studios have planned for their biggest pictures, these amendments do have implications for the release schedule going forward.
Safe in the knowledge that they won’t be exempt from Oscar consideration, indie fare is now more likely to be released directly into homes via on-demand services.
However, the longer deadline could mean that bigger productions decide to wait out the crisis, until public health and consumer confidence returns to a more stable level.
When will Oscar nominations be announced?
The Academy Award nominations will be announced at a later date than usual on 15th March 2021, roughly a month before the ceremony is held on 25th April 2021.
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