Kodak Asks Court to Remove Its Name From Oscars Theater

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Kodak will soon be out of the Oscar picture.

The Eastman Kodak Co., as part of its federal bankruptcy court filing, says it wants to get out of the deal made in 2000 by which it has naming rights to the theater in the Hollywood & Highland complex where the Academy Awards have been held since 2002.

Kodak, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection, said that it will ask the CIM Group, which owns the mall in Hollywood, where the theater is located, to allow it to get out of its contract.

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The deal is worth $75 million over 20 years, according to the filing, and the next annual payment, according to other sources, is for $4 million. As of last month, Kodak had been current on its payments.

The financial problems of the company that once dominated the photography business have been well documented. At the end of December, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences notified CIM Group that it would not renew its option to remain in the theater after the 2013 show.

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That was seen at the time as a negotiating ploy. The Academy and CIM could still make a deal for the Oscars to remain in the theater, which was designed in part specifically to accommodate the show and telecast which is seen worldwide.

At the time, it was clear the Academy was anticipating this move by Kodak. The Academy officials felt, with good reason, that the leverage CIM would have in finding a new company for a naming rights deal was primarily having the Oscars, which would give that brand global recognition.

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The Kodak Theatre, as it is now known, is not the only part of the complex associated with the Oscars. The entire grand entrance is filled with memorabilia and signage tied to past Oscar winners and the show.

The Academy has said it will take some months to make any decision on whether to stay in the Kodak or move elsewhere. One venue that has been mentioned  as a possible new home is the downtown Nokia Theater in L.A. Live. While sources close to the AEG Group have said they plan to bid aggressively for the Oscars, Academy spokespeople have said there have been no meaningful negotiations.

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