The Cannes Film Festival said on Wesdnesday it would postpone this year's edition from May to July in hopes of having an in-person festival, a year after it was cancelled altogether by the pandemic.
Cannes organisers announced Wednesday that this year's festival will now take place July 6-17, about two months after its typical period.
The world's most prestigious film festival, which has run for nearly 75 years with few interruptions, is currently hoping the coronavirus recedes enough by summertime.
"As announced last autumn, the Festival de Cannes reserved the right to change its dates depending on how the global health situation developed," the organisers said in a statement.
"Initially scheduled from 11 to 22 May 2021, the Festival will therefore now take place from Tuesday 6 to Saturday 17 July 2021."
The delay looked increasingly likely in recent weeks, with infection rates still high in France and talk of another lockdown looming.
It is another sign of uncertainty for an industry battered by a year of shuttered cinemas, delayed openings and cancelled productions, with many unsure about when the glitz of the red carpet will return to its full pomp.
The festival was cancelled entirely last year for the first time since the Second World War, with just a small online presentation from its official selection in October.
The postponement sets up a "potential confrontation" with its rival European festival in Venice, scheduled for September, said The Hollywood Reporter, "as the two events compete for the world premieres and red carpet star power".
"The move, while expected, will have a domino effect across the festival circuit. The Venice Film Festival is scheduled to kick off on September 1. Cannes' new dates mean there will be less than a month between Europe's number one and number two festivals," the industry magazine wrote.
The Venice festival managed to go ahead last year under strict health restrictions, taking advantage of a lull in infection rates over the summer.
But the continent's other major cinema event – the Berlin Film Festival – announced last month that it was delaying its industry segment from February to an online version in March, and would postpone its public screenings to June.
The Cannes festival normally attracts some 45,000 people with official accreditations, of whom around 4,500 are journalists.
Its Film Market, held alongside the main competition, is the industry's biggest marketplace for producers, distributors, buyers and programmers.
Variety magazine said that holding the event in July would normally "ruffle feathers" among the Riviera's lustrous hotels, clashing with the peak tourist season – but that there would likely be less concern this year given the pandemic's devastating impact on the hospitality sector.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)