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Hollywood officially has a new hotspot: the Academy Museum.
Following its starry, black-tie opening on Sept. 25, the mid-city destination has become a go-to events space for premieres, parties, screenings and glitzy fundraisers. To cite just a few: Belfast star Jamie Dornan captivated the premiere crowd singing “Everlasting Love” at a Nov. 8 afterparty; Ava DuVernay reintroduced Colin Kaepernick with Colin in Black & White on Oct. 28; Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder had guests in stitches while wearing matching ensembles at Women in Film’s WIF Honors on Oct. 6; Gal Gadot giddily sang “Imagine” at the podium during Elle magazine’s 27th annual Women in Hollywood celebration on Oct. 19; Edgar Wright raised a vesper in honor of Diana Rigg during the Oct. 25 Last Night in Soho premiere afterparty; and Marvel’s Victoria Alonso also carried a tune while championing diversity during the Outfest Legacy Awards on Nov. 13.
It’s not just cinephiles and superstars surveying the scene, however. The first-ever Range Rover Leadership Summit hosted business, tech, sports and luxury leaders this week for a series of talks that culminated in the debut of the new Range Rover. According to multiple insiders, there are a handful of reasons event planners are flocking to the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax.
There’s the “new factor” that can help draw invitees to a space they’ve never been, which some say is an added bonus to help grease the wheels for those who remain cautious about attending events amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond that, “there’s a shortage of venues right now,” says another insider. “There’s no Arclight anymore, and so many theaters have closed or are not fully staffed and running the way they used to be. There are fewer venues that do it well.”
The source adds that during this premiere- and screening-heavy season, mounting an event requires attention to detail. “You need a best-case scenario for films and filmmakers if you’re inviting Lady Gaga or filmmakers [like Ridley Scott] there for a screening,” the insider says, coincidentally days before Scott’s House of Gucci starring Gaga premiered there on Nov. 18 following an earlier industry screening. “You know by working with the Academy, you can trust the projectionist and the sound. Who does that better than the Academy?”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bill Kramer, Academy Museum director and president, says the use of the space has exceeded expectations. “We are over the moon,” he says. “We have been working with every studio and with so many corporate and nonprofit partners. We’ve been thrilled with the positive response, and we’re just so grateful that people are thinking of us and activating our spaces in such incredible ways.”
Kramer added that the team has been “especially excited” at how much the industry is posting up inside the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater as well as the more intimate 288-seat Ted Mann Theater. “We built the museum — our galleries, our theaters, our public programs and spaces — for the film-loving public but also for the filmmaking community. We’ve been thrilled with the response from Academy members and filmmakers because their expectations are that the sound, the visuals will be of the highest quality, and I think we are meeting that mark.”
Beyond premieres and official screenings, Kramer added that it’s been a surprise to see how people are utilizing the venues. “We’ve been so gratified by the responses of our Academy members and filmmakers who, in addition to hosting premieres at the museum, have scheduled private times to screen films as part of the postproduction process.”
He declined to offer specific names or projects, citing confidentiality. Kramer would say that he expects the booked-and-busy trend to continue. “We are approached on a daily basis by studios and corporate and nonprofit partners to rent the theaters and special events spaces, and that shows no signs of slowing down, especially leading up to the Oscars” on March 27.
Speaking of next year, the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, located in the official Academy headquarters in Beverly Hills, will reopen for member screenings on Jan. 4. Meanwhile, at the Academy Museum, the public programs and screenings series continue daily.
See photos from recent events below.
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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