Academy Awards Venue Change: Oscars' Home Renamed Dolby Theatre

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LOS ANGELES -- The Oscars will be in Dolby.

The CIM Group, which owns the Hollywood & Highland Center, announced a 20-year deal on Tuesday with the audio technology company Dolby Laboratories Inc. to rename the Academy Awards venue as the Dolby Theatre.

In a separate deal, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed a new agreement to keep the annual Oscars extravaganza at the theater for 20 more years.

"We are thrilled that Dolby is now the name of the theater because Dolby stands for excellence," said Tom Sherak, president of the motion picture academy. "It's a no-brainer for us."

The posh four-level, 3,400-seat theater, formerly known as the Kodak Theatre, has been home to the Academy Awards since 2002. CIM Group dropped the Kodak name from the theater earlier this year after a bankruptcy court judge approved the early exit of 131-year-old Eastman Kodak Co. from a 20-year naming rights deal it signed with CIM Group in 1999.

During this year's Oscar ceremony, host Billy Crystal jokingly referred to the space as the "Chapter 11 Theatre."

Sherak said the motion picture academy, which did not immediately renew its deal with CIM Group last year, briefly considered moving ceremonies to another venue but decided to keep the Oscars in Hollywood.

"We got a number of suggestions from people saying, `we'd love to have you,'" said Sherak. "We talked to them, and they gave us some offers that they would have loved to negotiate with us, but we stopped there because the board met and we decided we wanted to be in Hollywood with the awards show."

Sherak said the motion picture academy has approval over the theater's name as part of the deal it negotiated with the theater's previous owner.

No financial details of the new agreements were disclosed. Kodak previously paid a $3.6 million annual fee for the naming rights.

Dolby, which creates audio technologies spanning from homes to theaters, said in a statement that it will use the Hollywood venue to "create a world-class showcase for Dolby's current and future technologies, beginning with the company's revolutionary new Dolby Atmos sound technology released last week."

The 47-year-old company said it would began enhancing the theater's sound system this summer when the naming agreement commences.

The 85th annual Academy Awards are scheduled for Feb. 24, 2013.


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