The 2021 Oscars Are Still a Go. But Maybe On the Internet

Back in June 2020, the Academy of Motions Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) were forced to accept that hosting the 93rd Academy Awards in February 2021 would be untenable and that the sensible course of action was to reschedule the event. It was pushed back by two months. The hope at the time was that by April 2021, when the rescheduled Oscars would get underway, the global pandemic would be under a measure of control, some semblance of normal life would have returned, and cinemas and theatres would be open to business – particularly in major metropolitan cities that make up the lion’s share of the industry’s viewership numbers. And that under those conditions the Oscars could go ahead as a live in-person event with all the usual trappings – the pomp and ceremony of the red carpet, the nationally televised award presentations… and… separately… the glitterball after-parties that are the talk of entertainment news for days afterwards.

Now, a month into 2021, it’s looking more and more likely that things might not go to plan. The pandemic continues to rage on, and normalcy seems a foreign concept. Still, the Oscars are planned to go ahead, and oddsmakers are taking action on the star-studded event too. A slew of top-rated online sportsbooks have rolled out a smorgasbord of betting odds for the Oscars, including Sports Interaction, which has odds covering all 23 categories including odds for Best Picture.

However, if the Oscars do indeed go ahead, it is yet unknown what format they’ll actually be held in. Will they be an in-person event? Or will they be held virtually – a route many other events such as the Emmys last year, amongst others, took to great success.

In as much as AMPAS is still banking on the idea of an in-person event which they gambled on by pushing it back two months, it might not bear out. If watching movies in theatres again were the yardstick by which the movie industry would measure it was coming out on the other side of the pandemic, then the list of movies being delayed again is an ominous sign. One of several currently.

No Time To Die, Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie, which was supposed to hit movie theatres last spring, is reportedly being delayed again, for the third time since its original release date in the spring of 2020. It was the first blockbuster movie to be delayed back in March 2020, pushing back its release date first to November 2020 and then April 2021. Now, it has been pushed back to October 2021, although no statement has been officially released. Separately, there were rumours as well that MGM and Eon, Bond’s owners, had considered offloading the rights to the movie to a streaming giant for up to $600m, but no agreement to that effect was ever reached.

The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, It continues to wreak havoc around the world even though vaccines have arrived onto the scene and arms are being jabbed around the world. Movie theatres are nowhere near to reopening to their full capacity, and in many countries they remain shuttered due to repeated lockdowns as infections continue to mount. The entire situation is made even more dire with the discovery of new mutations of the coronavirus, one of which has recently been identified in California. The homegrown California Covid-19 mutation may be responsible for the recent spike in cases in Los Angeles, and it is discovered to be more virulent than the original Covid-19 virus that triggered the unprecedented public health crisis.

Clearly, the gamble the Oscars took by pushing it back two months hasn’t paid off, but it may still benefit from the delay. It’s still early days in 2021, and it’s a fluid situation. The Oscars ceremony may yet go ahead to a certain extent as an in-person event. Allowing those that are local and vaccinated to attend while the rest of the celebrities that are scattered around the globe to zoom in from studios or their homes, effectively taking a page from the Emmys that were entirely held online in autumn last year.

That said, the only thing certain is uncertainty right now. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the Golden Globes, which is the next big event that is scheduled for late February. How the Golden Globes go may determine how the Oscars go ultimately.

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