Dolby Discussing Naming Rights on Oscar Venue (Report)

Kodak Theater Exterior Oscar Red Carpet - H

The former Kodak Theatre will be renamed, but first the facility must resolve its future with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Dolby Laboratories is in talks to acquire the naming rights to the theater where the Academy Awards are held in the Hollywood & Highland Center, according to a report Thursday by Bloomberg.

The venue is now known as the Kodak Theatre. However, the Kodak company, as part of its bankruptcy, broke its 20-year contract for the naming rights in March, 10 years into its deal. Kodak has been paying about $4.5 million a year.

It is unclear how much Dolby, the San Francisco-based company known for its sound- and video-presentation systems, is willing to pay. What is known is that Dolby has a long history of working with the Academy and has won Oscars for its many scientific and technical innovations.

Whatever Dolby bids, there may not be any quick resolution. First, the CIM Group, which owns the Hollywood & Highland Center, is said to want to keep its options open in case someone else comes along with a higher bid.

Second, and more problematic, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has veto power over whose name goes on the Hollywood building, but it does not have a deal to continue in the theater beyond the 2013 show. The Academy and CIM have been in negotiations.

It is possible the Academy, which has a lot of leverage in the negotiations, will ask for a share of the money from the naming rights, something which it did not receive when Kodak agreed to pay $74 million in 2001.

It is unlikely Dolby or any other company will make a final commitment to pay millions to put its name on the theater until it is clear the Academy will be staying on for the duration of its deal.

The theater is used for other events as well; the Cirque du Soleil show Iris is playing there through the end of the year. However, the biggest reason any company would pay to have its name above the door is to have its brand be associated with the Academy Awards global telecast.

CIM never comments on talks about the theater. A Dolby spokesman had no comment.