2022 Oscars delayed a month, will air in March; show keeps eligibility for streaming movies

Brian Truitt
USA TODAY

Even though movie theaters are reopening, this year of films has still been impacted by the pandemic and the upcoming 2022 Academy Awards are taking that into consideration.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC announced on Thursday that the 94th Oscars ceremony will be delayed a month, from Feb. 27 to March 27. The annual show, which last month was mainly held at Los Angeles' historic Union Station, will move back to its usual prime-time spot at the Dolby Theatre and air live on ABC.

The upcoming Oscars are also sticking with the addendums put in place for this year's event allowing for drive-in movies and films that have premiered on streaming services and video-on-demand platforms to be in consideration (as long as they were originally intended for theatrical release).

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However, the eligibility period is going back somewhat to normal: Qualifying movies must have a release date between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2021. Plus, the Academy announced it intends to expand the qualifying requirements for the 95th Oscars.

One other big change going into effect for the 2022 Academy Awards is a permanent 10 nominees for best picture, instead of fluctuating between eight and nine since the category was expanded in 2010. The move was part of new equity and inclusion initiatives put forth by the Academy, including diversity standards that best picture nominees will have to meet starting with the 2024 Oscars.

Now the Academy just needs to fix viewership: During a mostly virtual awards season where every ceremony was affected, the 93rd Oscars show in April plunged to a new record low of 10.4 million viewers, down 56% from 2020's pre-pandemic 23.6 million viewers. 

Oscar nominations are scheduled to be announced on Feb. 8, and the Governors Awards, scrapped this year due to COVID, will return on Jan. 15.

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