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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Oscars force Bafta date change
Oscar statuettes outside the Kodak Theater
Preparations for the Oscars will begin earlier in 2004
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has confirmed it will move the Oscars ceremony to February from 2004 - forcing the UK's Baftas to move forward as a result.

The Academy confirmed its venue, the Kodak Theatre and TV network ABC, which shows the ceremony live, were both happy with the new date for the Oscars.

It voted last month to move the ceremony from late March to 29 February.

Kodak Theatre
The Oscars got a new home at the Kodak Theatre in LA in 2002
The move has forced the Bafta film awards to shift forward to 8 February for 2004, just two years after re-timing its ceremony for before the Oscars.

The team behind the British ceremony was worried that their event would get swamped by coverage of the US show.

Stephen Woolley, outgoing chairman of Bafta's film committee said: "This move to the beginning of February in 2004 has been necessary in light of the Oscars move to earlier in the year.

"To have our awards ceremony just one week before would not work for the industry as a whole."

The Academy decided on the date change to speed up the nomination process and give smaller budget movies a chance to shine.

'Experiment'

There were doubts, however, the move would go ahead, after years of a March ceremony.

"I think you could consider this a done deal," said Academy executive director Bruce Davis.

He added that the move was a "two-year experiment".

The official Oscar season currently runs from the end of December, the deadline for films to qualify for Oscar eligibility, until the awards are handed out in late March, six weeks after nominations are announced.

During this time, many films become only a dim and distant memory to audience members.

Big studios also have a lot time to use big marketing budgets on Oscar promotional campaigns.

Ratings

ABC executives said they were pleased about the new February date for the Oscars.

"We're very enthusiastic about the move because we think it's a great thing for the Academy Awards," said ABC TV Network president Alex Wallau.

Mr Davis said the Academy and ABC had been talking for years about a change in date.

The Oscars broadcast often serves as a springboard for ABC to launch new mid-season series.

Moving the event earlier would give ABC more time to try out new shows before the season ended in May.

Timetable

Mr Wallau added that he thought a February event would get higher ratings because of its greater relevance for movie-goers.

Last week, the academy issued a timetable for the 75th ceremony in 2003, including dates for the ballot mailings and nominees' luncheon.

Next year's Oscars will be held on 23 March at the Kodak Theatre, the new venue that hosted the awards ceremony for the first time last year.

The dates for the 76th awards in 2004 will not be made known for some months.

See also:

02 Jul 02 | Entertainment
02 Apr 02 | Entertainment
01 Apr 02 | Entertainment
22 Mar 02 | Oscars 2002
20 Nov 01 | Oscars 2002
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