When the Academy responded to the pandemic by pushing back the date of the 93rd Oscars by two months to April 25, 2021, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin were hoping for enough time for Hollywood to emerge from the pandemic, and book some big-budget studio event movies like Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” into reopened theaters. Well, that didn’t happen.
But the show must go on, and at Monday morning’s Oscar nominations announcement, which represented mostly indies and streamer fare, Rubin confirmed two Los Angeles locations for the upcoming April ceremony, the usual Dolby Theatre at Hollywood and Highland, and downtown’s historic Union Station. (New York locations were scouted, but no bookings have been confirmed.) This suggests that the three Oscar producers, Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher, and Jesse Collins, were paying attention to the Inauguration this past January, which took advantage of dramatic exterior locations.
Also on Monday, Rubin sent a note (see below) to Academy members outlining the shape of things to come. As expected, there will be no in-person socializing at the annual Academy lunch, the international pre-Oscar party, Oscar Night watch parties in London and New York, or the celebratory post-show Governors Ball. At the Oscar telecast, like other recent awards shows, presenters will be live at the venues. And the Oscars are also sending invitations to nominees and their guests to attend the live event. That’s it. (Many may choose to stay home, especially those from overseas.)
Nor is it a surprise that no one will be invited to attend any in-person Academy screenings for any of the nominated films.
Dear Fellow Academy Members,
I join you in congratulating all our Oscar nominees. We are now less than two months away from an Oscars show at the iconic Los Angeles landmarks Union Station and Dolby Theatre. A show that will undoubtedly be unique and memorable!
Though we’d hoped the pandemic would be more in our rearview mirror by the month of April, the health and safety of our members and Oscar nominees are our primary concern, so we’ve had to make some necessary decisions about some of our highly anticipated Oscar-week events.
This year, those attending the awards in person will be nominees, their guest, and presenters — with an audience of millions watching and cheering from all around the world. As a result, we will not be able to conduct our annual member ticket lottery.
We also will not hold any in-person events, including nominations screenings, the Oscar Nominees Luncheon and such beloved Oscar-week occasions as the International Feature Film nominee cocktail reception, and public programming for the Short Film, Documentary, Animated Feature, International Feature Film and Makeup and Hairstyling categories. I’m sorry to add that this year’s awards also will not include a post-Oscars Governors Ball celebration, or Oscar Night watch parties in London and New York.
In a year marked by so much uncertainty, one thing is without question: We have enlisted the ideal trio of producers–Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh–to put together an Oscars show like none other, to honor the extraordinary movies, memorable performances and achievements in filmmaking of the past year.
We appreciate your support and understanding, as we all look forward to an exciting show on April 25th.
Many in the industry are looking forward to what Soderbergh, Sher, and Collins have in store for the Oscar show. They have the opportunity to do something new, to shake things up in a way many bored Oscar-watchers have been demanding for years. As other awards shows have proved, from the Emmys to the Grammys, it is possible to entertain without all the usual bells and whistles. We also do not know who the hosts will be. Last year’s show did fine without them. But Hollywood may be in a mood to lift up the industry around the world, to support moviegoing and theaters and cinema beyond the small screen. That’s what the Oscars are supposed to be about.