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Academy Award trophies

Although the airdates of the Academy Awards ceremonies have varied in recent years, usually you can count on the festivities unfolding within the first three months of the year. Right now, the plan is for the 2021 ceremony, a.k.a. the 93rd Academy Awards, to be held on February 28, but word’s come in that the event could possibly be delayed due to the current health crisis.

According to sources who spoke with Variety, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is “likely” to postpone the next Oscars ceremony, although definitive plans are nowhere near in place yet, including what the new date would be. There are others who claim the 93rd Academy Awards are staying put in that February 28 spot, but at the very least, it would seem there are discussions being held about pushing back the ceremony.

The 2020 theatrical calendar has been significantly shaken up by the health crisis, with plenty of completed movies and those close to the finish line being delayed to either later in the year or into 2021. There are a handful of movies that have since decided to forgo a theatrical release in favor of coming out on VOD or streaming, but when you combine those delays with the movies that were in the midst of production and had to stop rolling cameras, the result is a domino effect that stretches out to late 2022, and may end up going further.

As things stand now, various theaters around the country are starting to reopen their doors, and Russell Crowe’s Unhinged is aiming to be the first new big screen release in months, with movies like Tenet, Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984 following in the weeks after. However, there’s no guarantee yet that the theatrical business will be back to normal by this summer, and that in turn would obviously affect the Academy Awards. As Academy president David Rubin told Variety in April:

It’s impossible to know what the landscape will be. We know we want to celebrate film but we do not know exactly what form it will take.

That’s not to say that the Academy hasn’t adjusted for these troubling times. Normally for a movie to be considered for an Oscar, it has to at least play in a Los Angeles-based theater for seven days, but late last month, those restrictions were relaxed, as this year, movies like Trolls: World Tour and The King of Staten Island that debuted on VOD will be up for Oscars consideration.

However, such movies will still have needed to have had a theatrical release planned, as well as be available on the Academy members-only streaming platform within 60 days of their release. Plus, the seven-day theater rule will be put back into effect if theaters all over have reopened before the end of the year, though this won’t be applied retroactively. The new rule also allows for movies to have their qualifying theatrical runs in New York, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and the Bay Area, rather than just Los Angeles.

As of two weeks ago, the Academy was still deciding if it would extend its deadline for eligible films. If the 2021 Oscars are pushed back, then one would imagine the deadline would also be moved accordingly. Assuming next year’s Academy Awards ceremony is indeed delayed, two questions come to mind: when will it air and will movies released after the year-end deadline be able to qualify?

With regard to the first question, I imagine the ceremony would be moved to either later springtime or perhaps even early summer, but it’s way too early to tell. As for the second question, considering that each Academy Awards ceremony recognizes movies released in the year prior, even with a delay, I highly doubt that means the 2021 Oscars will highlight anything released after 2020.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more news on what’s happening with the 2021 Oscars. For now, you can look through our 2020 release schedule to learn what movies are still on track to hit theaters later this year.

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