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The 2021 Oscars Could be Postponed by the Academy Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Oscars 2020 logo

Hollywood’s biggest night might be postponed. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are considering pushing back the 2021 Oscars, which are set to be held in February, due to concerns over the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The 93rd annual Academy Awards may not happen next year due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Variety reports that the Academy is considering postponing the annual movie awards ceremony, the telecast for which is currently set for February 28, 2021 on ABC.

“It’s likely they’ll be postponed,” a source told Variety, though plans are not set in concrete at the time. ABC has not yet changed the date for its telecast of the biggest night in Hollywood, nor have potential new dates been “fully discussed.”

If the Oscars were to be postponed — something that hasn’t happened to the prestigious awards ceremony since the awards were postponed a few days after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. — it’s unclear if the competing films would be releases from both 2020 and 2021. However, nominating two years worth of movies is not unprecedented — the very first Oscars ceremony in 1929 contained nominees from 1927 and 1928.

The reports follow historic rule changes announced in April in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which temporarily altered how films would qualify for Oscar eligibility. Under the usual rules, a film would be required to have a seven-day theatrical release in Los Angeles County to qualify for an Oscar nod, but the Academy is allowing digital releases this year to qualify due to the nationwide shuttering of theaters out of abundance of caution for the virus. Oscar-qualifying theatrical runs were also expanded to New York, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and the Bay Area, instead of just in Los Angeles.

It’s unclear if Oscar-contending films released under these temporary rule changes would still qualify if the ceremony were pushed back to 2022. As many newscasts and articles are fond of saying, we live in unprecedented times, and that even applies to seemingly trivial things like awards ceremonies. But thousands of people put their hard work and time into these films, and TV shows, and to be awarded for their efforts is an important part of the industry.

The Oscars aren’t the only awards ceremonies affected by the pandemic. The 2020 Tonys is considering cancelation as Broadway remains dark, while the the Emmys have shuffled around deadlines and eligibility rules to make its September 2020 date. Still, if the all-important Oscars gets pushed back, it may only be a matter of time before other awards ceremonies follow.

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