Each year, filmmakers and studios race toward an end-of-December deadline, not only to get their Oscar-contending films into theaters to qualify, but to ensure Academy voters are able to see them in time to vote. But in 2014, a move to shift the broadcast of the ceremony from February to January could have massive repercussions.
Why the potential move? With the Super Bowl slated for February 2nd, and the Winter Olympics from February 7th to 23rd, in 2014 the month is pretty much booked up in terms of event television. Back in 2010, the Academy faced a similar dilemma, and moved the show to March. The result? Their highest rated show since 2005. Of course, a variety of factors play into Oscar ratings, including the films nominated and more, but needless to say, an early January show will cause a headache for studios, some of whom have already started slotting their contenders for December 2013.
Most notably so far are Disney with the Tom Hanks drama “Saving Mr. Banks,” and Sony with George Clooney‘s WWII caper “The Monuments Men,” which is already on a tight schedule with shooting not slated to start until the spring. To put it another way, this year’s Oscar votes were due last Friday, with nominations coming on Thursday. If the show was on January 12th, voting and nominations would essentially need to be done by mid-December, which means Oscar-contending films would need to be seen in November. Under that format, movies like “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables” and “Zero Dark Thirty” would have struggled to make contention in 2012.
But whether or not this happens remains to be seen. January 2014 is not without its roadblocks with both the Grammys on January 26th and the NFL playoffs on January 19th. It’s another packed TV event month, and getting heard above the noise (not to mention trying to market the show during the Christmas holidays, when attention is diverted) will be challenging. Our guess? Studio honchos are already planning their awards season calendar for next year, and they will not want their bottom line affected if their Oscar movies suddenly won’t be able to contend due to the compressed timeline. While the conversation is nice, we’d wager another March show is probably what will happen, particularly as online voting for the Academy is still working out the kinks.
But who knows? Maybe by this time next year we’ll already know the nominees and be prepared to award the winners in just a few days. Thoughts? Should the Academy rush the race to January or let it breathe until March? [Variety]