The Academy’s 14th Governors Awards, at which Angela Bassett, Mel Brooks and Carol Littleton are set to receive honorary Oscars and Michelle Satter the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, has been pushed from its previously announced date of Nov. 18, 2023, to Jan. 9, 2024, in the hope that the ongoing actors and writers strikes will be resolved by then.
Though the Governors Awards is a non-televised gala dinner that is put together by a union crew and probably would not have been picketed by the striking guilds if it moved forward in November, it likely would have run into other issues.
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The Governors Awards are held in the thick of Oscar season because the Academy calculated — rather brilliantly, it turned out — that scheduling it for then would make it a hot spot for big names currently in Oscar contention to be seen/photographed/mingle with Academy members. Indeed, more stars now attend the Governors Awards than the Oscars itself, not least because nobody has been eliminated from contention by the time they are held.
But the hefty tab for attending the Governors Awards — $75,000 for a table or $7,500 for an individual seat — is almost always picked up by a studio, which then fills its table(s) by inviting the key contributors to its contending films — including, of course, actors and writers — to sit there alongside the studio’s top executives. That dynamic would currently be untenable.
Plus, two of this season’s four Governors Awards honorees are actors: Angela Bassett and Mel Brooks (also a writer), both whom are set to receive honorary Oscars. If the November date had been retained, it would have put them in an uncomfortable position; and if they ultimately decided to not accept their award in-person, it would have put the Academy in a difficult position, since the other two honorees, while highly distinguished, are not exactly “household names” who would independently drive ticket sales.
Essentially, the Academy has now pushed back the Governors Awards as far as it can without losing the primary incentive for current movie stars to show up to the gathering: getting exposure before Oscar nomination voting, which will begin on Jan. 11 and remain open through Jan. 16. (And we’ve seen what it’s like when that happens: the 12th Governors Awards was delayed, due to the pandemic, until the Friday before Oscars Sunday in 2022, and far fewer notables were in attendance than in other years.)
The Governors Awards is just the latest unusual addition to the January 2024 awards season calendar, which is quickly becoming jam-packed. Also pushed into the month because of the strikes: the 75th Emmys, which moved from Sept. 18 to Jan. 15.
Those two events join the 35th Palm Springs International Film Festival (Jan. 4), the BAFTA Tea Party (Jan. 6), the 81st Golden Globe Awards (Jan. 7), the 24th AFI Awards luncheon (Jan. 12) and the 29th Critics Choice Awards (Jan. 14). Plus, the 47th Sundance Film Festival will take place from Jan. 18 through Jan. 28, and the nominations for the 96th Academy Awards will be announced on Jan. 23.
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