Kodak Theater Owner Begins Negotiations to Retain Oscars (Exclusive)


The CIM Group is the first to hold talks with the movie Academy about the future location of the Academy Awards

The Kodak name might be coming off the theater in Hollywood but the Oscars could still stay in that location.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has entered negotiations with the CIM Group, which owns the complex, about a new contract to keep the awards ceremony there beyond 2013, a source at the Academy tells The Hollywood Reporter.

PHOTOS: Academy Awards 2012: The Nominees

The Academy would not comment on the record. A spokesperson for the CIM Group declined to comment.
The Academy signed a 20-year lease on the venue in 2002, but it contains an opt-out provision after 10 years. In late December the Academy notified CIM it was not picking up its option to remain in the theater after the 2013 show. That was seen as a negotiating ploy. While the Academy seems to lean strongly toward staying in the theater, there is no assurance it will do so.

CIM is the first to hold formal discussions about the future home of the awards but others are expected to woo the Academy as well, most notably the AEG Group, which operates the Nokia Theater in L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.  
AEG, say sources, would offer the Academy not only the downtown theater but also opportunities to use adjacent public space and numerous other surrounding venues for parties, events and more. AEG would also offer additional promotion beyond what is available in the Kodak.
No official negotiations between AEG and the Academy have taken place yet, although there were some preliminary, informal discussions in December. There are complications with the Nokia Theater because it is also home to the Emmy Awards. When the deal with the TV Academy was made, AEG apparently gave an option that if the company ever brought in the Oscars, the Emmys would have the right to opt out. Since the two award shows are months apart, it is unclear if the TV Academy would exercise that option if it comes to that.

PHOTOS: 12 of Oscar 2012's Biggest Snubs

An AEG spokesman did not return a call seeking comment on Wednesday.
Eastman Kodak, which is in bankruptcy, said on Monday in a federal court filing in the Southern District of New York that it wants to get out of the 20-year contract it made in 2000 for naming rights the theater. The first Oscar telecast from the 3,400-seat theater took place in 2002.  
At the time the deal was made, the theater was described as the new permanent home of the Academy Awards. Now that may not be the case.

Kodak wants to stop making $4 million annual payments, so the CIM Group would be expected to seek a new company to buy the naming rights. The main leverage it will have to make such a deal is the presence of the Oscars telecast, which is seen worldwide and will enhance whatever brand has its name on the theater.

STORY: Kodak Asks Court to Remove Its Name From Oscars Theater
That gives the Academy a lot of leverage to make a better deal for continued use of the theater.
Academy sources have said the group will take its time in making a decision about the future home of the Oscars. A deal would be negotiated by Academy officials and then have to be approved by the Academy Board of Governors.
Besides the Nokia, there are many other venues that could accommodate the Oscars, including the Shrine Auditorium and the L.A. Music Center, where the show has taken place in the past.

Email: Alex.Benblock@thr.com