While the virtual “Pandemmys” weren’t entirely a waste ― tuxedo hazmat suits will forever be seared into our memory ― the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is very much hoping Zoom award shows will be a uniquely 2020 phenomenon.
The 2021 Oscars ceremony, which was pushed back by two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held in person at the Dolby Theatre on April 25, a spokesperson for the academy and ABC confirmed to Variety on Tuesday.
“The Oscars in-person telecast will happen,” the rep told the outlet.
However, after Variety broke the news, insiders told The Hollywood Reporter that “neither the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nor its Oscars broadcast partner ABC has made any such decision.” The outlet went on to note that the plans “remain very fluid,” as just last week Los Angeles County announced a new stay-at-home order given the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
The 93rd annual ceremony was originally scheduled to air on Feb. 28, but as the pandemic continues to upend the entertainment industry with blockbuster movie delays and quarantine restrictions leaving theater operators in jeopardy, the academy is trying to salvage the most challenging year in film in recent memory.
It’s unclear what safety measures would be in place for the event, as recent award shows have gone to painstaking lengths to reinvent ceremonies during the pandemic.
An award publicist familiar with the plans told Variety, “The Academy has done a walkthrough of the Dolby recently to see all the multiple options.”
In the past year, most award shows have heavily relied on prerecorded segments and performances, while the Emmy Awards in September pulled off the feat of sending broadcast-quality cameras and equipment to nominees’ homes for remote live feeds from 140 locations around the globe.
And despite a few hiccups and all-time low ratings, the ceremony was largely a success with critics praising the show as the best in years.
But while the Oscars has amended certain rules, including allowing streaming-only films to compete this year and extending the eligibility window, the academy seems dedicated to preserving the essence of the award show.
“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 this summer. “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.”
“We find ourselves in uncharted territory this year and will continue to work with our partners at the Academy to ensure next year’s show is a safe and celebratory event that also captures the excitement of the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures,” added Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment.
Nominations for the ceremony will be announced via a two-part live presentation on March 15 across the academy’s digital platforms.
Now, all eyes turn to other televised ceremonies on the horizon, as the Golden Globes is still set to kick off awards season on Feb. 28 with the Critics Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards to follow.