Oscars pushed to April 2021 as film industry grapples with COVID-19 pandemic

Eligibility window for feature films has been extended to February 28, 2021

oscar-8-afp Oscars statuettes stand on display during a preview for the Governors Ball during the 90th annual Academy Awards week in Hollywood, California | AFP

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the Oscars ceremony will be further pushed to April 25, 2021 as Hollywood struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Academy’s Board of Governors also decided to extend the eligibility window beyond the calendar year to February 28, 2021, for feature films, and delay the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures from December until 30 April, 2021, AP reported.

“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,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a joint statement.

According to reports, it is for the first time in 40 years that the Oscars ceremony is being rescheduled. The last time the Oscars was postponed was in 1981—the official ceremony was pushed by 24 hours in the wake of an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. The ceremony was pushed back a week because of disastrous flooding in Los Angeles in 1938. In 1968, it was delayed two days following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The global entertainment industry has been badly hit by the pandemic, with production work being halted and movie releases pushed. This also led to major film and music festivals being postponed indefinitely.

Theatres in the US are set to reopen in July, and release dates of films like Christopher Nolan's much-awaited espionage drama Tenet are out. Even with the decision to reopen cinemas, major studios have decided to delay releases further. Tenet, for instance, has been pushed by two more weeks and will release on July 31.

The Marvel film Black Widow and the ninth installment in the Fast & Furious franchise, both expected to arrive in the early summer, have delayed their releases.

Warner Bros. also announced Friday that Wonder Woman 1984, a sequel to its 2017 hit, would shift from an August release to October 2.