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Kodak Theater Is No More: Photography Company Ends Naming Deal With Hollywood Theater

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A shot of the Kodak Theater from the 2009 Oscars. (Associated Press)
A shot of the Kodak Theater from the 2009 Oscars. (Associated Press)

-- One big name that likely won't be at this year's Oscars: Kodak.

The Eastman Kodak Co. received court approval Wednesday to end its sponsorship deal with the Hollywood theater that is the venue for the Academy Awards.

Kodak signed a $74 million deal for naming rights to the theater in 2000. But the struggling photography company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month and wanted to end its contract for naming rights of the glamorous Los Angeles theater as it tries to improve its finances.

The company's financial advisers said in court documents that the benefits of having the company's name on the 3,300-seat erstwhile Kodak Theatre aren't worth the contract's cost.

Kodak confirmed Wednesday that a U.S. Bankruptcy judge approved its request to end the deal.

It's unclear what name will be on the theater when the Oscars are awarded Feb. 26. Kodak said the termination is effective immediately and deferred questions on the theater's name to the venue's owners and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

CIM Group, which owns the theater, declined to comment on the decision or the future of the theater's name. A representative for the academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the theater's name, its owners may have to make other tweaks.

The theater has a George Eastman Room, named after Kodak's founder, which displays one of the nine Oscar statuettes that Kodak has been awarded through the years for its scientific and technical achievements and contributions to the industry, according to the theater's website

Kodak, based in Rochester, N.Y., is a photography pioneer but has been battered by competition and has failed to keep up with the shift from film to digital technology. It has been in a roughly decade-long turnaround but filed for bankruptcy protection when it ran short on cash.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York handling the case also approved a $950 million debtor-in-possession financing for Kodak on Wednesday that allows it to operate normally during bankruptcy, while it tries to sell its collection of digital-imaging patents.

Kodak spokesman Christopher Veronda said the company will still have a presence at the awards show. He noted that seven of the nine films nominated for the Oscar for best picture were shot on Kodak film.

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Skidmore reported from Portland, Ore.

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