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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the ABC TV network will refer to the venue for this year’s Oscars as the “Hollywood and Highland Center” in promotions, on the pre-show and during the Oscar telecast on Sunday.
Academy president Tom Sherak said they are dropping mention of the venue as the Kodak Theatre at the request of the landlord, the CIM Group.
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The decision to drop the Kodak name from the show comes in the wake of the bankruptcy of Kodak, and approval from a federal court to end annual payments of nearly $4 million for naming rights.
The auditorium and venue have been known as the Kodak Theatre since 2002, as part of a 20-year deal made in 2000 for naming rights. At that time Kodak had committed to pay about $72 million in annual installments of $3.6 million, according to documents filed in bankruptcy court in New York in early February.
When Kodak asked to be let out of the deal after only 10 years, CIM opposed the motion. They said the promotional campaign for the 2012 Oscars was already underway and it was not possible to remove the Kodak name from everything. The court granted the motion anyway.
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which puts on the Oscars, is not a party to the naming rights deal but does have approval over what name replaces Kodak on the theater, according to Academy officials. In December, the Academy exercised an option not to renew, which gave them the right to either make a new, better deal with CIM – which is what Sherak said at the time he wanted – or to move to another venue after the 2013 Academy Awards.
The Academy has been in discussions with CIM about a renewal, but the non-profit organization has said it will take its time and consider all options, including a possible move to the Nokia Theatre or another venue in Southern California. So far the Academy has only had discussions with CIM however.
It is not clear when CIM will actually strip the Kodak name off the theater or ask the City of Los Angeles to change the many road signs and markers in the area that point people to the theater.
CIM has engaged Premier Partnerships to search for a new naming rights sponsor. However the process is complicated since a major brand would not want to pay $50 million or more for their name to be on the venue unless they are assured the Academy will keep the Oscars there for the term of the deal. That is yet to be seen.
Sherak’s comments about the name change were first reported by KABC in Los Angeles.
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