The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has released an update on this years’ Oscars ceremony broadcast. The ceremony is to consider public safety concerns first, and will broadcast live from multiple locations on April 25. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit each individual, it also affected the commerce and creative businesses throughout the world. This includes the entertainment industry, which took heavy losses due to theatre shutdowns, production halts, and restrictions on crowd gatherings (which is unavoidable on a film set). The shutdowns further led to delays in film releases as big-budget studios withdrew from VoD release while some shifted to streaming platforms.
The decision to broadcast the Academy Awards live from around the globe came after major cities like London, LA, and New York remain under health and safety concerns, which won’t allow for a crowd gathering of hundreds for an awards ceremony like the Oscars. However, the organizers will honor Oscar’s integrity keeping Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre as the main event venue, while having other arenas to support the ceremony.
The Academy has already postponed the ceremony from its traditional event date in February to April, which will allow films releasing until February 2021 to be eligible contenders. It’s currently unclear how the Academy will manage the overall event as major official details are kept under wraps; however, the announcement is giving similar vibes as the last year’s Emmy awards ceremony, which were also broadcast from multiple locations through online conferencing, where winners gave speeches from their respective homes. But, the Academy seems to still consider an in-person ceremony with hosts, presenters, and nominees on site.
An Academy spokesperson has further stated, “[the Academy is] determined to present an Oscars like none other, while prioritizing the public health and safety of all those who will participate”.
Earlier last year, an extended impact of the worldwide pandemic was seen on other award ceremonies, events, and film/music festivals which were either postponed or canceled. This led Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to revise its rules for nomination considerations at Oscars, which allowed films released on streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max to be considered for nomination in multiple categories (if they were earlier supposed to release in theatre and were only withdrawn due to pandemic).
Moreover, previously the Academy mandated that only films released in one theatre in LA County shall be eligible for Oscars; however, for 2021, films getting a limited release in other major cities like New York, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, and Miami will also be eligible to compete in multiple categories. Besides this, films screened at drive-in-theatres will be eligible for contending in all categories.
A multi-location broadcast may also call for multiple hosts, or it may proceed without a host as it did with the 2020 ceremony. However, given the low ratings and small viewership stats may force the organizers to do something different with this new style of format with the Awards ceremony.
On the other hand, Hollywood Foreign Press Association is also planning for its own bicoastal broadcast for the Golden Globes, which may also give some hints about the Academy’s plans for Oscars. The Academy Awards 2021 nominations will be announced on March 15, 2021, and the ceremony will broadcast live on April 25.