Acad sets Feb. 24 date for 85th Oscars

AMPAS sticks with tradition despite talk of moving ceremony

An earlier Oscar ceremony may happen someday, but it won’t be 2013: The Academy is sticking with its late February slot for the 85th annual kudofest, though a much earlier nominations announcement may change campaigning, depending on where the Golden Globes land on the calendar.

Rumors of a moved-up Oscar date persisted until Wednesday’s announcement that Feb. 24, 2013 would be the day. Nominations, however, will be announced Jan. 15 — more than a full week earlier than last year’s Jan. 24 reveal.

Though that change squeezes the noms up closer to the Golden Globes ceremony, Oscar polls usually close before the HFPA’s show, as they did last year. Still, Jan. 15 is the earliest date in January that Oscar nominations have been announced since the telecast shifted from March to February in 2004, and it gives the post-nomination time frame an extra week for 2013.

Earlier nominations could slightly alter campaigning, depending on what the Golden Globes choose to do. Since the Oscar nominations moved to January in 2006, there has always been a perceived 10- to 12-day slowdown after the Globes between the polls closing and ballots going to voters. But with the Academy announcing its intention to adopt electronic voting for the 2013 ceremony, the ballot counting should be nearly instantaneous, eliminating the lag time. Unless the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. decides to move the 2013 Globes ceremony a full week ahead of the Martin Luther King holiday, that means campaigning will continue full-throttle post-Globes for the Oscar nominees. The HFPA had no comment on the date for its 2013 show.

The Jan. 15 date also reinforces the awards season focus on the guilds, which have traditionally been considered bellwethers for Oscar gold. The Producers Guild of America will take place Jan. 19; the Directors Guild of America will be Jan. 26; and the Screen Actors Guild will be Jan. 27, which means all three ceremonies will take place while the final Oscar polls are open. By contrast, this year the PGA Awards took place in the 11-day period between Oscar polls closing and the nomination announcement, and the DGA and SAG Awards happened in the 8-day period between nominations and paper ballots being mailed.

Acad also said the ceremony will be held at the Hollywood and Highland Center, which underwent a last-minute name change last year amid Kodak’s bankruptcy proceedings. Next year is the last for which the Academy is contractually obligated to hold the ceremony there; an out clause in its contract allows it to explore moving to other venues as soon as the 2014 telecast.

Reports earlier this year indicated that AMPAS had been approached by other venues including the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, though Academy brass have said they were only negotiating with CIM Group, owner of Hollywood and Highland.