The Herald Bulletin

January 10, 2013

Heather Bremer: Oscar change could leave studios scrambling

By Heather Bremer
For The Herald Bulletin

— Oscar nominations were announced Thursday, but it is another bit of news from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences that has Hollywood buzzing and could drastically alter the look and feel of the holiday movie season next winter.

The Oscars ceremony is traditionally held on a Sunday in February – the 2013 show is set for Feb. 24. Next year’s date, however, is uncertain as the Academy faces a string of competing events. The NFL’s Super Bowl will occupy the weekend of Feb. 2, while the other three Sundays in February belong to the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Since a New York Super Bowl (featuring Andrew Luck and your Indianapolis Colts) and Lolo Jones competing in the bobsled are much larger draws, the AMPAS is left with a conundrum.

It’s a conundrum the Academy has faced before. The 2010 ceremony was pushed back to March to accommodate the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The Academy could opt to move the awards back again. Or consider two other options.

One would put the ceremony on a Monday, either Feb. 3 or Feb. 24. The other would change the meaning of the phrase “Oscar movie season.”

According to an article in Variety this week, the Academy is considering, perhaps even favoring, a move to early January. The Grammys already are slated for Jan. 26, and the NFL conference championships fall on Jan. 19. That leaves Jan. 5 as the most likely landing spot for the Golden Globes and Jan. 12 as the date Hollywood would strut down the red carpet for the Oscars.

It also leaves the studios in a real spot.

An early January ceremony would require voting by AMPAS members, not to mention Globes balloting by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, to be completed before Christmas, well before the studios’ traditional release dates for Oscar contenders. Studios would be forced to move their awards films into October or November … or risk missing the awards season all together, without hope voters would remember your film the following season.

How would this affect the 2013 holiday movie season? Let’s look at 2012…

Hobbits and Orcs returned to theaters in “The Hobbit” on Dec. 14. The film depicting the final hunt for Osama bin Laden, “Zero Dark Thirty,” opened in limited release on Dec. 19. And musical sensation “Les Miserables” made its long-awaited debut on Christmas Day.

Can you imagine any of these films among the horror flicks of October or family films of November? How about a Christmas season devoid of event movies and art house treasures?

Whether the Academy leaves studios scrambling to re-slot films earlier in the year and redefines the awards season or leaves well enough alone and opts for a later ceremony, one thing is for certain. Their decision will be based entirely on how it will affect their TV ratings.

Of course, if Seth McFarlane offends absolutely everyone in Hollywood and everyone at home as host of this year’s Oscars, the Academy won’t have to worry about ratings.

Heather Bremer, a former Herald Bulletin reporter/designer, writes a weekly column on movies, television and pop culture. Contact her at heatherebremer@yahoo.com.