Disney to Release ‘Nomadland’ in Time for Best-Picture Deadline

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Walt Disney Co. has rescheduled the release of best-picture contender “Nomadland” for Feb. 19, giving the pandemic more time to subside before the drama’s debut while keeping it eligible for Oscar awards.

The film, which has been the top pick for best picture on forecasting site GoldDerby.com, was originally scheduled to hit theaters Dec. 4. The new date is a little more than a week before the Oscar deadline, which was pushed back because of the havoc Covid-19 has wreaked on Hollywood scheduling.

“Nomadland” stars Frances McDormand as a woman who embarks on a journey across the Western U.S. after losing everything during the Great Recession. McDormand is also a contender for best actress, according to GoldDerby.

@searchlightpics

See You Down the Road
NOMADLAND, starring Frances McDormand.
A film by Chloé Zhao
February 2021
#NMDLND

3:04 PM · Dec 14, 2020

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While studios often release their Oscar hopefuls late in the year to keep them fresh in academy voters’ minds, this time they face an especially delicate balancing act. They’ll want to wait as long as possible so that more theaters may be open, while at the same time meeting the deadline.

In vying for a best-picture statuette, Disney is in unusual territory. The studio hasn’t typically been a front-runner in the category because it stopped making the kind of adult dramas that typically win. It acquired “Nomadland” as part of its purchase of Fox’s entertainment assets last year and has vowed to continue making those sorts of movies at its Searchlight division.

Oscar season has been thrown into turmoil by the coronavirus. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which hands out the awards, usually requires Oscar candidates to have run in Los Angeles theaters for seven days in the calendar year before the awards.

In April, the academy madeexceptions for the coronavirus and said films released only online would also be considered for the first time. It has also added drive-in theaters and five other cities to help films qualify. The deadline for appearances in theaters was extended until Feb. 28.

Theaters in Los Angeles, the second-largest U.S. city, have been closed since March. The awards are scheduled to be given out April 25.

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