Are The Oscars Going to be In Person in 2021? Perhaps, But It Will Be Complicated


Hollywood’s A-listers will potentially have the chance to trade their trackies for tiaras in 2021 as Variety exclusively reported back in December 2020 that the 93rd annual Academy Awards would be held in person, albeit later than usual. 

Now we know that the prestigious event will take place on April 25, but the show’s producers — Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh — are still trying to figure out how to make an “in-person” concept work.

Variety now eports that the team are “weighing a plan that would rotate nominees and presenters in and out of the area where the awards are being handed out as a COVID precaution. Cleaning crews will then sanitize the area before the next batch of nominees and presenters take their seats.

“The idea is similar to what happened at this year’s Grammys where pods of performers and nominees were circulated in and out of the audience in four different groups. These pods were switched up roughly every 45 minutes.”

If all of that sounds like a logistical nightmare to you, you’re not wrong — but it would definitely be a glimmer of light at the end of what has been an exceptionally challenging time for the film industry, as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought productions to a grinding halt and delayed the release of many highly anticipated films. 

In December, The Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences were hoping more films would be eligible for consideration as a result of movie theatres being open again in early 2021 and the eligibility timeline for submissions was extended from December 31 to February 28, 2021, with films that premiered on streaming platforms also qualifying for consideration. 

The ambition to hold a ceremony that more closely resembles the good old pre-corona days raised questions as to how the event would be carried out safely in the theatre which has a seating capacity of 3,400, so the idea of rotating guests does seem to make sense. 

There was also uncertainty surrounding the likelihood that some of the veterans of the silver screen would be agreeable to attending an in-person ceremony as many are considered “high risk” due to their age. They include Sir Anthony Hopkins, 82, Meryl Streep, 71 and 86-year-old Sophia Loren. 

A representative from the theatre has yet to comment on what protocols will be put into place, but an awards publicist told Variety that, “The Academy has done a walkthrough of the Dolby recently to see all the multiple options.”

Of course, the fate of the prestigious event will all come down to how the US fares in its ongoing battle with the deadly pandemic and how under control it is by April, so at this stage, plans are remaining very flexible.

In September 2020, the Primetime Emmy Awards were held as a hybrid event with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel conducting the ceremony with some in-person (and socially distanced) celebrity friends. Nominees also participated over Zoom, and there was also the touching addition of frontline and essential pandemic workers presenting awards in pre-recorded segments.

Since then, the Golden Globes, Grammys and Critics Choice Awards have all taken place, proving that the hybrid of in-person and virtual attendance works quite well.

For the full list of films and performers that are nominated at the 2021 Academy Awards, read our article, The Nominations for the 2021 Academy Awards Are In, With ‘Mank’ Leading the Way

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