After one its glitziest film awards in years, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is debating moving the event to a pre-Academy Awards slot to focus worldwide attention on the ceremony as a pointer for the Oscars.
Supporters of the move, said to include incoming BAFTA chairman Simon Relph, aim to avoid the post-Oscar hang-over by securing a date in late February. The move would mean BAFTA's film awards would fall only a month before the Academy Awards.
While many national film prizes are timed to benefit from pre-Oscar hoopla, supporters argue that BAFTA could be an ideal pointer to the Oscars because it has steadfastly remained an international rather than a purely British showcase. Even the Golden Globes, traditionally taken as a bellweather for the Oscars, come as far back as January.
The move could come as early as next year, if BAFTA's film committee, which is discussing the proposal, decides within two months.
BAFTA will also have to discuss the move with distributors in the UK and overseas about whether they would support the change, but a BAFTA insider said that "a lot are quite keen". A senior member of the committee said that a move was not yet "policy", but "likely".
This week's awards ceremony secured a prestigious line-up of stars including Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey and Cate Blanchett, plus strong local newspaper coverage the day after.
But some BAFTA insiders feel that the event's impact may be limited by coming only two weeks after the Oscars. One film committee member said that some people felt the event had a sense of "deja-vu". In a repeat of the Oscars, American Beauty came away the major winner with prizes in six categories including best film (Screendaily, April 10).