Could the theater formerly known as Kodak be closer to a new name?
Audio and video corporation Dolby Laboratories has entered talks with CIM, the theater’s landlord, for naming rights to the Oscars venue, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.
The 3,300-seat venue, located inside Los Angeles’ Hollywood & Highland’s complex, has hosted the Oscars for the past decade. But it was left without a name when a judge voided the naming-rights contract in February in the wake of Kodak’s bankruptcy filing. The theater was referred to as the “Hollywood & Highland Center” at this year’s Oscars.
Bloomberg reported that a new naming deal may not be imminent, with CIM likely to test the waters with other bidders. Kodak paid about $72 million for a 20-year deal back in 2000.
Based in San Francisco, Dolby began in the mid-1960s by licensing audio and video technologies to consumer electronics companies, and has recently expanded into digital entertainment offerings; it created Dolby 3D, a system for projecting 3-D movies in digital cinemas.
Spokespeople for the academy, Dolby and CIM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Kodak was built in the early 2000s expressly for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ annual event, and has since come to host other performances, such as Cirque de Soleil’s salute to Hollywood called “Iris.” It serves as an anchor of the Hollywood shopping and entertainment complex.
The voiding of naming-rights deals has become a hot topic since the economic recession began in 2008. Some critics, for instance, have called for the renaming of Citi Field, the New York Mets ballpark, given the financial crisis and the team’s troubled financial picture.
Complicating the naming question at the Hollywood & Highland complex is that the academy is entering the last year of its lease with the CIM facility. Earlier this year the academy initiated preliminary talks with AEG to move the Oscars downtown to the Nokia Theatre beginning in 2014. The space is roughly double the size of the Hollywood & Highland space, though it’s unclear how serious the academy is about severing its relationship with its current home.
Photo: Preparations for the 2006 Oscars outside the Kodak Theatre. Credit: Al Seib /Los Angeles Times