2021 Academy Awards pushed back two months due to coronavirus pandemic

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The 93rd annual Academy Awards have been pushed back from Feb. 28, 2021 to April 25, 2021, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Monday. The widely anticipated news came out of the academy’s board of governors meeting. The group also extended the eligibility period in which films must be released to qualify for an award.

“For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year,” Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “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.”

To be eligible for an award, films usually must be released in the calendar year before the awards show, but now must have a qualifying release date between Jan. 1, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021. That seems unlikely to be a permanent change. 

“The intent going forward is to ultimately return to awarding excellence for films released in the January-December calendar year,” the statement read, noting that future eligibility windows as well as the 2022 show date will be announced sometime later.

Back in April, the academy announced changes to film eligibility. Films eligible for awards usually must run for seven days in a commercial movie theater in Los Angeles County — that’s why you often see films open late in the year in LA, but not open in other cities until the new year. But with many movies unable to open in regular theaters due to the coronavirus outbreak and moving instead to streaming services, the academy said it will consider films that were released digitally and did not play in theaters. The movies must have had a planned theatrical release and be made eligible for Academy members to view via streaming.

Eight of the last 10 Academy Awards ceremonies have been held in February, while two were in March. The 2021 ceremony is set to air on ABC.

On Friday, the academy announced it plans to create a task force to develop new inclusion standards for Oscar eligibility, although any changes made would not affect films submitted in 2020.

The December opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures was also changed to April to coincide with the show.

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