BAFTAs early to prize

Brit org mulls move in Oscar response

LONDON — The British Academy Film Awards will move to Feb. 8 in 2004, two weeks earlier than planned, if the Oscars switch to the end of February.

The British Academy of Film & TV Arts is waiting to learn whether the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will confirm last month’s vote to bump the Oscar ceremony forward a month from 2004.

Two years ago, BAFTA changed the date of its awards from mid-April to late February to position its ceremony as a key event in the run-up to the Oscars, which traditionally take place at the end of March.

The move created much greater media coverage and a surge in BAFTA membership.

But the AMPAS board voted to switch the Academy Awards to Feb. 29 in 2004 in an attempt to fight off kudos fatigue and boost TV ratings.

The BAFTAs are officially still set for Feb. 22 in 2004. But BAFTA insiders quickly recognized that a one-week gap before the Oscars would not work — for a start, no stars would be available to attend the London event.

So the org has staked out Feb. 8, which still keeps the ceremony clear of the Golden Globes in late January, while leaving three weeks until the Oscars.

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