Are Winter Olympic Games Forcing 2014 Oscars Into March?

Are the Oscars moving even later into March next year? All signs say ‘yes’ and the Academy would be wise to announce this sooner than later.

Despite annual (and always wrong) media speculation (including a recent column in a well-knownOscars 2013 show biz trade) that the Academy Awards are planning to move a month earlier into January insiders have repeatedly told me the Academy’s Board has no taste for that, and as at least one former top officer in the organization told me over the weekend, contractually they can’t  do it.

Though they haven’t yet announced any dates for the next Oscar race, the schedule of the Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia February 7 through the 23rd puts a big crimp in any plans to keep the Oscars even on in its current berth on the last Sunday of February where it would run smack into the Closing Night ceremonies. In the past when this has come up the Academy has always moved the Oscar show to the first Sunday in March which would be on the 2nd next year. Quite frankly there is nowhere else for the show to go. Do the math.

With the Super Bowl already claiming Sunday February 2nd and the Olympics taking the remaining three Sundays, the earliest date available would be January 26th and every source with whom I have spoken tells me that is the date CBS is claiming for the Grammys next year (moving two weeks earlier than their February 10, 2013 date). Also getting the message are the major show biz Guilds which have all already staked out their 2014 dates and sprayed the territory.

SAG jumped the gun on February 8 and quickly announced their show would be Saturday January 18, a week earlier than usual. On February 21, the Producers Guild  followed and took Sunday January 19, also a week earlier than this year’s event was held. Last week the Directors Guild announced they too would go a week earlier than 2013 and will present their awards on January 25. A top executive with one of those guilds told me they have been assured by Academy officials that the Oscars will move on to that March 2nd date, so no conflict is expected and there will likely be an even bigger gap than usual between the guild shows and the Oscars. Of course the Golden Globes will almost definitely stay on the weekend where they usually reside, and so Sunday January 12th is their likely date (but not yet announced).

With the difficulties Academy members encountered seeing everything in time to vote for nominations which were moved up to a January 10th announcement this year (with voting taking place over the holidays Dec 17-Jan 4), it is just not feasible to move the actual Oscar show any earlier than it already is, and top sources in the Academy tell me ABC also has a lot to say about the date too. Contractually the Academy has to adhere to certain guidelines regarding the date.

And with ratings up for this year’s Seth MacFarlane-hosted show, the pressure to move for ratings improvements would seem to be off for this year at least. The fact that the Academy smartly had six weeks instead of four between nominations and the show also allowed the nominated films more playing time in theaters and grosses increased markedly. Silver Linings Playbook for instance nearly doubled its gross and shot over $100 million in that period. The longer gap actually turned out to be good news for exhibitors and that was part of the Academy’s thinking in allowing more time for distributors to exploit their nominations. It also probably actually helped the ratings by giving the viewers more time to see the nominated films and develop a rooting interest. Six of the nine Best Picture nominees grossed well over $100 million and a seventh (Zero Dark Thirty) almost hit the mark.

With a March 2nd Oscar show all but a done deal, it will be interesting to see what date the Academy chooses to announce their nominations next year. With one more week to play with they could give more time up front and announce around January 16th and still have that six-week period leading up to the show. Of course they could also choose to keep the nomination announcement just three days before the Globes as they did this year. Many observers thought the Academy did this in part to blunt attention for the rival Golden Globes, but in fact it may have inadvertently brought even more attention to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s show as ratings for that NBC juggernaut were up 17% from the previous edition and the highest in six years.

At any rate it’s looking like exactly one year from today we will all be nursing our Monday morning Oscar hangover and celebrating the end of an even longer awards season.

  1. I think you have SAG and PGA dates backwards. SAG has always aired on a Sunday night, hasn’t it?

    1. Nevermind…just saw the SAG release. Makes zero sense to me as far as not sticking to it’s usual Sunday night spot.

  2. The Oscars used to be at the end of March that was the best date for them it never made sense to move them into February. Push them back to March 25th or March 30th.

    1. Thank you, I could not agree more — I can’t stand this yearly game of when the oscars are going to air — January is so ridiculous — as you said you need time for people and voters to see the films and generate interest in the show itself.

      One thing that I’m curious about — is that you say that they are contractually obligated — which is the first I’m EVER hearing about this.

      The oscars don’t need to move their schedule for anyone, they are the Academy Awards — and somewhere along the line they seem to have lost faith in themselves by feeling that other awards shows have affected them.

      1. What is so wrong about expecting people to have seen the year’s Oscar nominees by the end of January? The awards show is supposed to be a celebration of the year’s best films, not a celebration of the best films that received a limited release in late December before expanding in mid-January.

        IMO, one of the reasons that people care less about the Oscars these days is because when the list of nominees comes out, people see a whole list of films they haven’t seen and think “what’s the point?” Ideally the list should have a number of blockbusters, breakouts, and buzzed-about indies so that January is spent “catching up” on films that people might have missed during the previous year instead of scrambling to watch a dozen films that were only seen the previous year by people who had DVD screeners delivered right to their doors.

      2. They didn’t begin airing in February until 2004. Prior to that year, they aired in March and April….always April until the 1970s.

  3. Not only should they move to late March, but put them back on on a Monday night like they used to be. I (and so many others) are in pissy enough moods on Sunday nights anyway, Monday would be a welcome return.

  4. March 2nd is probably the right date to have it. The real issue that needs to be addressed is having the show over by 11 pm. Most of us have to work early Monday morning and having it over at a reasonable time is key. ABC should start the red carpet coverage at 7 and the show should start right at 8.

    1. Since the Oscars are on a Sunday, when most people aren’t at work or school, I could see:

      (1) ABC ending Sunday-afternoon programming on Oscar Day at 5 P.M. EST.

      (2) Local stations getting (in the East) a half-hour of local news at 5 P.M. EST.

      (3) The “Red-Carpet Show” running from 5:30 to 7 EST.

      (4) The Academy Awards ceremony starting at 7 EST.

      (5) The Oscar show probably would end sometime around 10 or 10:15 P.M. EST; from there until 11 EST, ABC could broadcast live post-show interviews with winners.

      (6) Or, if on Oscar Day, ABC decides not to give local stations an early-evening news window, the network could run one NBA basketball game at 12 Noon EST, then from 2:30 until the start of the Red-Carpet show, air various programs that could range from retrospectives of past Oscar shows, roundtables of film critics predicting what films will win, a review of the year in motion pictures, etc.

      I think the ratings would be much higher because I think one problem with TV ratings for the Academy Awards is that the show goes on so late in the East, that some people simply don’t watch, and many who do head off to sleep before the end.

      Sometimes, I think the Motion Picture Academy believes that no one lives east of the Rockies!

  5. The Academy screwed up thinking February is a sweeps ratings month and it’s the middle of winter in most of the country so we’ll get a bigger number of viewers but late March really was the best date that’s when they always were held. When did they move forward a month? It seems like it was fairly recently and it’s never been as good. There are too many other awards shows on TV in January and February.

    And members should have all of Jan and Feb to look at the potential nominees the Nomination Announcement should be on March 1st and let’s do away with the absurd 5:30 AM west coast time that is a relic from the old days. Make the nominee announcement at 1:30 PM west coast time so that the local news at 5 PM on the east coast can lead with the nominated films.

    1. The announcement of the Oscar nominations should be a prime-time special at 9 P.M. Eastern Time on a Thursday night.

      Besides the announcements, there could also be some production numbers; a top comedian could also do a monologue.

      If the Oscar show remains on the last Sunday of the February sweeps, perhaps the voting window can be shortened so that the prime-time nominations announcement special could air on the first night of the sweeps.

    2. Or ABC can do a primetime show at 10 PM Eastern and 7 PM Pacific, as far as nominations are concerned.

      1. That would be very smart if they do it on a Sunday night it would get huge ratings it has to air live in every time zone from east to west. The Academy won’t take any of this good advice they are arrogant snobs.

  6. Given that the Winter Olympics are in Sochi, Russia, where the closing ceremonies on February 23rd, 2014 would be in early afternoon Eastern time, I can see the Motion Picture Academy keeping the date of the 2014 Academy Awards as February 23rd.

    NBC could air the closing ceremonies live in the afternoon (Eastern time), and thus avoid conflict with the Oscars.

    1. The only way that happens is if Disney becomes an Olympic sponsor and forces the issue for NBC. BTW, as I am writing this, it is 2:41 AM Tuesday Morning and my, local time in North Dakota, 4:41 PM on Monday. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies could start as early as 6 AM Central Time or 7 AM Eastern.

  7. So happy that so many of you agree that it should be returned to March — SPEAK UP SUPPORTERS!!!! It’s frustrating given that academy members must also choose to nominate during the holiday season and be expected to see every movie. Why rush the process?

    My question is why would the grammys be moving out of sweeps?

  8. Dump the fucking Olympics! Who cares? I anticipate the Oscars all year, the viewing audience is huge, just go away Olympics.

Comments are closed.