The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has landed on Sunday March 27 as the date for the 94th annual Academy Awards, with nominations set to be revealed on Tuesday, February 8. Although this is a full month earlier than this year’s latest-ever Covid-challenged April 25 show, it is still a month later than the norm in most recent pre-pandemic years. In fact, AMPAS gave up its previously set 2022 date of February 27 and re-booked its usual digs at the Dolby for the late-March date instead.
The eligibility period for Academy Awards consideration, however, will return to the standard December 31 deadline after having been extended to February 28 this year for a 14-month Oscar year rather than the usual 12 in the normal calendar year that has been in effect since 1934. As such, this year will encompass just 10 months where a feature film must have a qualifying release date between March 1 and December 31, 2021. The Academy states that for the 2022 Oscars, which is still impacted by the pandemic, eligibility requirements for the 94th Academy Awards will be consistent with the addendums made for the 93rd awards season and can be found here. That is good news for streamers, which don’t have to worry about qualifying with theatrical engagements. Complete 94th Oscars rules and specialty category submission deadlines will be announced in June. Following this year, the Academy intends to expand the qualifying requirements for the 95th Oscars.
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The Governors Awards, which were canceled last year due to the pandemic, will be back in action but two months later than usual, on January 15. The Oscar Nominees Luncheon, also canceled because of Covid restrictions, is returning on Monday, March 7. With dates now official, all the other awards-giving groups can plan accordingly, including BAFTA, AFI and various guilds, most notably the SAG Awards, all of which march in lockstep with the calendar the Oscars set in motion.
The Critics Choice Awards already announced that its 2022 ceremony will take place on Sunday, January 9. That spot likely would have been claimed by the Golden Globes, which, due to various scandals within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, has been forced out of its NBC broadcast home, at least for 2022 with no guarantee they will even be back in 2023. The group is undergoing a complete overhaul, and time will tell if the group’s now-very-public problems can even be solved. Could the absence of the glamour-magnet Globes be a good omen for boosting TV audience interest in the Oscars? One fewer precursor awards show can be only good news for the Academy.
Despite at least one trade report to the contrary, the Academy has known for some time — pandemic or not — that the 2022 show would have to be in late March due to the unique collision of the Super Bowl being held February 6 in Los Angeles and the Winter Olympics from Beijing running February 4-20. Sources tell me that, logistically, it was simply impossible without the proper amount of time between nominations coming February 8 and the show itself, which needs at least three to four weeks to prep — not to mention exploiting those nominations for theatrical exhibition. That’s something theater owners always push for, especially in the age of competing with streamers.
An added element is procuring the proper media time the Academy and ABC need, a key factor in promotion of the show. It certainly is not unusual for the Winter Olympics to push the Oscars into March, but going to late March is unique to all these events converging this year. Timing is everything. The Academy and its broadcast partner ABC are hoping to bring some sense of normalcy and excitement back after negative reaction — some within the Academy and its Board itself — to the 93rd Oscar show. Held at Union Station due to restrictions posed by the pandemic, it landed with a ratings thud, the lowest Nielsen numbers by far since Oscar began on television in 1953 but still ABC’s top rated primetime entertainment broadcast this year. (Most other awards shows also were way down this past season.) With theaters back open and studios planning to release some of their bigger titles, Oscar is hoping for that very Hollywood thing in 2022: a huge comeback.
ABC will televise the 94th Oscars live from the Dolby Theatre in more than 200 territories worldwide.
Here are the key dates for the 2021 Oscar season — but, in what is certainly an understatement considering the tumult of recent years, all dates for the 94th Academy Awards are subject to change:
Tuesday, December 21
Oscar Shortlists Announcement
Friday, December 31
Eligibility period ends
Saturday, January 15
Thursday, January 27
Nominations voting begins 9 a.m. PT
Tuesday, February 1
Nominations voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Tuesday, February 8
Oscar Nominations Announcement
Monday, March 7
Oscar Nominees Luncheon
Thursday, March 17
Finals voting begins 9 a.m. PT
Tuesday, March 22
Finals voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Sunday, March 27