By Aaron Blevins, 5/03/2012
Academy Signs 20-Year Lease to Stay in Same Venue
Following prospects that the Oscars could be headed to downtown Los Angeles or elsewhere, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has signed a 20-year agreement to keep the Academy Awards in Hollywood.
Furthermore, the Oscars will stay in the same venue, which will be known as the Dolby Theatre, per a 20-year agreement announced on Tuesday by CIM Group, the company that owns the Hollywood & Highland Center.
“We are thrilled with both announcements,” said Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Leron Gubler. “Today is a very good day for Hollywood.”
In February, the Academy reportedly exercised an option in its contract to analyze the possibility of securing a new venue beyond the 2013 awards. The Academy denied the reports, saying it had not yet began such negotiations.
On Jan. 19, Eastman Kodak, which owned the naming rights for the Kodak Theatre, filed for bankruptcy, and a judge allowed the company to terminate the 20-year agreement for the naming rights.
The 84th Academy Awards were held on Feb. 26, and Kodak’s financial troubles proved to be useful fodder for host Billy Crystal, who welcomed the audience to the “Chapter 11 (Bankruptcy) Theatre”.
Under the new agreement, the Dolby Theatre will host the Oscars through 2033. Gubler said CIM Group needed to bring in a company like Kodak that the whole industry uses, and Dolby, an audio technology company, fits the bill.
“Dolby is the perfect match for them,” he said.
Gubler said keeping the Oscars in Hollywood was very important for the area’s tourism, which centers at Hollywood & Highland. He said tourists frequently want to see where the Academy Awards are held.
“The fact we’ve been able to maintain the major draw for that theatre is important,” Gubler said. “It sends a long-term message to the public that Hollywood is the center of the motion picture industry. We’re thrilled.”
The Hollywood Business Improvement District (BID), which aims to revitalize Hollywood, also celebrated the announcements. Executive director Kerry Morrison said the news is “terribly exciting.”
“I think it really anchors a chapter of new hope for Hollywood,” Morrison said. “It’s all great news for Hollywood. We have had some tough times dating back to 2008.”
She said Hollywood has benefitted from new investment and development recently, and the Academy’s decision should continue that progress. Morrison said she hoped the organization recognized that the community’s stakeholders believe in Hollywood’s future, which was evidenced by the BID’s recent renewal through 2018.
“Hollywood is not done,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to do. …We are a work in progress, and I think this is really going to bolster everybody’s confidence moving forward.”
According to representatives of CIM Group, the agreement will commence this summer, and the theatre’s signage will be changed at that time. According to a press release, Dolby will immediately install its Atmos sound technology. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.