Oscars: The Ordinary Mall Housing Hollywood's Most Glamorous Event

Fancy Strip Mall - H 2016
Eric McCandless ABC/ via Getty Images

Fourteen days of construction, 1,500 square feet of gold curtain and 16,500 square feet of red carpet turn the Hollywood & Highland Center into a camera-ready venue.

This story first appeared in the March 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

How do you turn a mall into the most glamorous place on Earth? Construction begins 14 days out, when a crew of 250 start laying down red carpet, building risers and stages, and installing design elements such as the 38-by-40-foot gilded curtain draped across the entrance to the Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards since 2002.

The Dolby was designed with the Oscars in mind, which is why the nearly 100 tenants in the surrounding Hollywood & Highland Center don't object when the entire mall shuts down every Oscar Sunday — it's written into their leases. Louis Vuitton employee Winston So estimates the store loses around $80,000 of weekend business, but notes that the location "brings a lot of tourists we might not otherwise get, because they want to see where the Oscars are [held]."

The street closures don't bother the guests of Loews Hollywood Hotel behind the mall, because the Academy reserves nearly all of its rooms for Oscar staffers, presenters or performers.

Pedestrian access isn't fully restricted until show day. "For as much of an obstruction as some of this is, it's good for everyone," says Joe Lewis, associate producer of Oscars arrival and preshow. "This is good for Hollywood."