Academy Expected to Postpone Oscars and Extend Eligibility Window

The ceremony is expected to be postponed by as many as eight weeks

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The Oscars are looking to diversify their Best Picture contenders.
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According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors will meet via Zoom on Monday morning, where they’re expected to vote to delay the Oscars by as many as eight weeks and extend the awards show’s eligibility window beyond Dec. 31, 2020.

The delay for the ceremony, which was scheduled to take place on Feb. 28, 2021, is expected to be voted on as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered theaters and delayed production and post-production work on movies that were originally slated to come out by the end of 2020. As the Hollywood Reporter notes, “The governors are not expected to determine the format for the ceremony yet — in-person or virtual — as they feel they still have time to see how the pandemic unfolds before making that call. They did, however, need to put a hold on a new date on the calendar of their broadcasting partner, ABC.”

The Oscars have been postponed three times before — once in 1938 due to flooding in LA, in 1968 due to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and in 1981 after President Ronald Reagan was shot. However, the eligibility window has only been extended once, for the Oscars’ sixth ceremony in 1934. “That ceremony, in March 1934, was preceded by a 17-month eligibility window spanning Aug. 1, 1932 through Dec. 31, 1933, so that thereafter the eligibility period could be the actual calendar year preceding each ceremony, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31,” The Hollywood Reporter writes.

Some critics have argued that extending the eligibility window is unnecessary because traditionally most Oscar contenders aren’t released until later in the year, anyway. And given the Academy’s #OscarsSoWhite history, the optics of extending the eligibility window right after Spike Lee’s just-released Da 5 Bloods has begun to generate awards buzz for the director as well as lead actor Delroy Lindo aren’t great.

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