Oscars and Baftas 2021: Ceremonies postponed for two months

Bong Joon-ho directed last year's Oscar-winning film Parasite, the first non-English language film to win best picture

Next year's Oscars ceremony has been pushed back by two months, the latest big celebrity event to have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Academy Awards were due to take place on 28 February next year but have now been put back until 25 April.

Organisers have also agreed to extend the eligibility window beyond 31 December 2020 to the end of February.

Next year's British Academy Film Awards (Baftas) have been pushed back to 11 April, keeping in line with the Oscars.

The pandemic has already halted work on a number of films which were due to be released by the end of the year.

"This is a much needed boost for those films who may have been stalled in post-production," an Academy member told Variety.

The red carpet is a big draw for Oscar fans

Last week, The Academy pledged to ensure greater inclusivity in its future award ceremonies, to "level the playing field".

It also said there would always be 10 films in the best film category rather than a fluctuating number between five and 10, potentially meaning more diverse film choices in the running.

This rule won't come into play until 2022, however.

What's happening with the Baftas?

The ceremony has been pushed back to Sunday 11 April 2021. It was due to take place on 14 February.

This keeps it in line with the Oscar changes - the Baftas traditionally take place two weeks ahead of the Academy Awards.

And like the Oscars, Bafta has also changed its eligibility criteria.

Films that had an official release date that fell during the lockdown period will now still be eligible if they choose to debut on video on demand services.

Marc Samuelson, chair of Bafta's film committee, said: "We have pushed back by two months to give all films the best possible chance to be released and considered properly."

The Oscars has only been delayed three times before - due to LA flooding in 1938; after the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in 1968; and following the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

It's not yet known if the ceremony will be virtual or in person as it is too early to say.

Oscar statuettes

David Rubin, president of the Academy - the body behind the Oscars- and its CEO Dawn Hudson said: "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. 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 penalised for something beyond anyone's control.

"This coming Oscars and the opening of our new museum will mark an historic moment, gathering movie fans around the world to unite through cinema."

Nominations will be announced on March 15, 2021.

Rule changes

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently changed its rules so films that debut on streaming or video on demand services are eligible for next year's awards.

The current rules say films can only enter if they have been shown in a Los Angeles cinema for at least a week.

But with cinemas shut during the coronavirus crisis, organisers said a "temporary" exception was necessary.

Many film releases have been delayed, with others going straight to digital.

The Oscars is not the only big entertainment event to have been affected by Covid-19.

The prestigious Tony theatre awards were due to take place earlier this month but were postponed and a new date is yet to be announced.

Some events have been cancelled, including last month's Eurovision Song Contest.

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