Next month's pandemic-affected Oscars ceremony will include venues in the United Kingdom and France for international nominees unable to travel to Los Angeles, sources familiar with the plan told AFP Tuesday.
While Oscars presenters will remain at the previously announced main location in downtown Los Angeles' Union Station — just a short drive from Hollywood — producers are "planning something special" for the British "central hub," one source said.
Another "satellite hub" is planned for Paris.
The Academy Awards — the biggest and final night of Hollywood's sprawling award season — had faced growing criticism after producers earlier this month said no video calls would be allowed for those unwilling or unable to attend in person.
Eight of the nominated actors this year are British, including 83-year-old Anthony Hopkins for "The Father" — a play adaptation about dementia written by French director Florian Zeller, who is also nominated for his screenplay.
Under the previous plans, all nominees would have been required to travel to California despite facing potential travel restrictions, lengthy quarantine requirements and the inherent risks of flying during a pandemic — or face being left out of the show entirely.
With the new policy, satellite links will now be provided for international nominees around the world who have no way of getting to Los Angeles — although video calling will still be kept to a minimum.
Recent award shows including February's Golden Globes have been slammed for their heavy use of remote calling for nominees, particularly after the start of Daniel Kaluuya's acceptance speech for best supporting actor briefly lost audio.
Oscars producers have spoken of their desire for a ceremony that "will look like a movie, not a television show," promising a spectacular introduction and planning to film proceedings in high-definition, widescreen format.
– 'The virtual thing' –
The 93rd Academy Awards will take place on April 25, concluding a much- delayed Hollywood awards season.
Organizers are still urging all nominees who are able to attend the Los Angeles ceremony in person to do so, and have asked attendees to observe a 10-day quarantine during which they will be asked to avoid crowds, gyms and restaurants.
The night will feature extensive Covid-19 testing precautions for nominees and their guests.
"We are going to great lengths to provide a safe and enjoyable evening for all of you in person, as well as for all the millions of film fans around the world, and we feel the virtual thing will diminish those efforts," wrote the producers in a letter to nominees two weeks ago.
Other international hopefuls hoping to travel include Danish director Thomas Vinterberg ("Another Round"), Bulgarian "Borat" star Maria Bakalova, English director Emerald Fennell ("Promising Young Woman") and South Korea's best supporting actress nominee Youn Yuh-Jung ("Minari").
This year's nominated foreign films hail from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Hong Kong, Romania and Tunisia.
For those who make it, the event will feature a red carpet of sorts, while nominees will be rotated in and out of Union Station as their categories arrive.
Some elements of the show — expected to include live performances — will be broadcast from the Oscars' traditional Hollywood base at the Dolby Theatre.
And in a seeming nod to some of the relaxed dress choices seen at the virtual Globes, nominees have been told that "formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not."