LOS ANGLES: The ceremony for film’s highest honours have been postponed by eight weeks and will take place on April 25, 2021, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a statement.
The coronavirus epidemic shut down movie theaters worldwide in mid-March, brought production of films to a halt and wreaked havoc on Hollywood’s release calendar. The Oscars had originally been scheduled for February 28.
The Academy also extended the deadline by which movies must be released in order to be eligible for an Oscar nomination by two months to February 28, 2021, from December 31, 2020.
“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,” Academy President David Rubin and Academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said in a statement.
The production shutdown meant that many filmmakers feared their movies would not be finished by the usual year-end Oscar eligibility deadline. Dozens of other movie releases have been moved to 2021.
This is only the fourth time in the 93-year history of the Academy Awards that the date has been changed; in 1938, due to floods in Los Angeles, in 1968 because of the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and in 1981 after the attempted assassination of then-President Ronald Reagan.
The new date for the Oscars is expected to prompt the Golden Globes and other award shows to also reschedule their events. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) said it was shifting its film awards ceremony to April 11 from February 14.
Hollywood movies were last week allowed to resume production in Los Angeles with detailed guidelines on social distancing and frequent testing. However, most are not expected to resume until September.
The industry hopes the big movie theatre chains will reopen by late July, when Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller ‘Tenet’ and Disney’s live-action remake ‘Mulan’ are due to be released.
The Academy had already eased some eligibility rules in April, allowing movies that skip the big screen and appear on streaming platforms to contend for Oscars this year.