As I first revealed in a November 28th exclusive (and then again Dec 31 ) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences would not be moving the Oscar show any earlier than Mid-February and most likely not at all despite rampant, and wrong, media speculation elsewhere (both before and after the Deadline article appeared) that they were indeed going to shift the 2013 show a month earlier to late January. Not only was this not going to happen for next year’s show, it also is not in the cards for 2014, because the same configuration of dates and conflicts exist there too – and then some. ABC has a say in all this, as well as the Academy of course, and they did not want the late January date according to my plugged-in source. Feb 3rd is the Super Bowl and the following Sunday is the BAFTA awards and will likely be the Grammys (which narrowly eclipsed the Oscar ratings this year for the first time ever, largely due to the death of Whitney Houston the night before). The earliest the show could go was February 17th, just a week earlier than usual and as I wrote in November the Board would have to decide whether moving up just a few days was worth it. The Academy’s Board of Governors had a meeting last night and obviously they decided leave it on the same weekend it usually takes place, so February 24th at the Not-Kodak Theatre is it. Since Oscar ratings were up this year despite having a lower grossing lineup of Best Picture nominees, there was no need to make a panic move even if they had been so inclined. This was the smart thing to do as the Academy realized the Oscars are still the one movie award that will be remembered long after the season ends.
As for 2014 there is an even bigger question since the Winter Olympics take place February 7-23 in Russia. In past Winter Olympic years, the Academy has shifted its Oscar date back a week so as not to compete. That would mean the 2014 Oscars will likely have to be Sunday March 2nd.
I think the Academy, wisely, has come to the conclusion that trying to move the show earlier just isn’t feasible. Its members, unlike critics groups, take a while longer to try and see everything and going with a January Oscars would be chaotic in that regard and also in terms of movie release schedules. Plus, there are the voting dates of all the awards shows that precede it to consider, most specifically the guild shows that were very concerned. At least one major guild met with the Academy in person to voice those concerns and it is interesting to note that as soon as their shows were done this year, SAG PGA and DGA, as well as BAFTA all quickly planted their flags on the same weekends for 2013, a dead giveaway there would be no attempt by the Academy to move earlier. The Academy itself has now followed suit and announced its 2013 show date much earlier than usual. Last year it waited until April 26th to set the date.
The most significant change is the date for nominations, moving from January 24th this year to January 15th in 2013, nine days earlier. It’s a change made possible by the advent of electronic voting, which the Academy is expected to implement in the next Oscar voting season. Ballots can come in much later with online voting although the Academy made no mention in today’s release of what date the nominating ballots will be due back. This year they had to be in on January 13th, a full 10 days before the announcement. There will be no need for that long a period if the new methodology works like it does with other awards voting groups which allow ballots to be out until shortly before their nominees are made public. By moving nominations up to mid-January, they will also blunt the impact of the Golden Globes, which are likely to be held just two days before on January 13. It will give the Academy voters a lot more time to actually see the nominated films. Not a bad thing at all.