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The 2021 Oscars will break a 32-year ceremony streak

The 2021 Oscars will break from a three-decade tradition.

On June 15, 2020, after weeks of speculation about what might happen regarding the 2021 Academy Awards ceremony, the board of governors took to Twitter to make an enormous announcement. For the first time in 32 years, the Oscars will not be held in February or March, but will move to April next year.

As the COVID-19 crisis rages on — putting cities on pause, shutting down production on several films, and preventing others from being released due to the mass shuttering of movie theaters — the Academy had to make a tough choice. Originally scheduled for February 28, 2021, the 93rd Academy Awards are now slated for April 25.

In a tweet, the Academy wrote, "It's true! Next year's #Oscars will happen on April 25, 2021." That's not the only information the cinematic authority revealed in the tweet. The eligibility period for films to qualify for Oscar consideration will be extended to the ceremony's previous date of February 28, nominations will be announced on March 15, 2021, and the Academy's long awaited Los Angeles museum will now open on April 30, 2021, in the aftermath of the ceremony itself.

The Academy Awards are undergoing some huge changes

This huge date change for the Oscars, while certainly understandable, marks an enormous break in tradition for the ceremony. Though the date changed around quite a bit in the early days of Oscar ceremonies — back in the early 1930s, the ceremony was held in November twice for some inexplicable reason — the last time that the Oscars were held in April, rather than February or March, was for the 60th Annual Academy Awards in 1988.

Delaying the Oscars, in and of itself, feels almost entirely unprecedented, and shows just how seriously the Academy is taking the spread of COVID-19. In fact, the Oscars have only been delayed three times in history: in 1938, due to dangerous flooding in Los Angeles; in 1968, after the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and for a brief 24-hour period in 1981, after an attempt was made to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Clearly, the Academy considers COVID-19 an equally valid reason for a delay — after all, it seems impossible to hold an enormous gathering, likely without masks or protective face coverings, without a known vaccine.

These aren't the only changes coming to the Oscars going forward. In a recent report by Variety, the Academy announced that, thanks to a new initiative known as "Academy Aperture 2025," they'll strive to make the awards ceremony more diverse and inclusive, as well as consistently feature ten Best Picture nominees per year (after The Dark Knight was snubbed in 2008, the Academy widened the Best Picture race, but the number has been inconsistent throughout the years since). In any case, the Oscars will happen, and barring any more unforeseen circumstances, they'll take place on April 25, 2021.