The Academy Officially Opens 'Oscars Outdoors' Venue

Oscars Outdoors - H 2012
Richard Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Oscars Outdoors - H 2012

Hollywood's open-air theater is now open for weekend screenings of classic and family-friendly films.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences opened its open-air theater in Hollywood on May 19 with a screening of Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner.

The new facility is located in the heart of Hollywood at 1341 Vine St., just north of the Academy's Pickford Center. The site now consists of a public-access park, where they Academy will hold a 10-week screening series throughout the summer, dubbed “Oscars Outdoors."  Academy president Tom Sherak and CEO Dawn Hudson were on hand for the inaugural screening.

“It took us almost two and a half years to all agree this was a good idea. Sometimes you have to wait for good things,” Sherak told THR.  “We hope Academy members will come, but it was built for the community, it was built for the city of L.A., and it was built for tourists around the world.”

The modern park includes picnic benches and state-of-the-art screen and sound system. Classic PG-13 films will be shown on Friday nights, while family-oriented affair (think Goonies) will be screened on Saturday nights. Both evenings will be catered by Los Angeles’ food trucks, and popcorn will be served at what Sherak calls “reasonable prices.” Admission will range from $3-$5; Sherak said he does not intend to compete with the neighboring ArcLight Theatre.  “This is our commitment to Hollywood,” he said to the crowd gathered on the lawn for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti was also at the ceremony and admitted to THR that he is very much looking forward to the Sound of Music Sing-a-long. On a more serious note, he was very supportive of placing more parks in the city’s most densely populated district.  The 2013 Los Angeles mayoral candidate envisions the same fate for Oscars Outdoors as the newly made hipster hangout Hollywood Forever Cemetery. “We don’t have enough spaces where we can all come together in the city," he said. "That’s why we helped them assemble the land and support them in this.”

Echoing Garcetti, Field of Dreams writer and Academy board member Phil Alden Robinson said, “L.A. has less outdoor spaces than New York City,” and actress Alfre Woodard shared his sentiment. "When we pulled around that corner on our way into this new venue, we really were acting out Field of Dreams. We were like: ‘Oh my God, look, there’s a park! There’s a screen! We’re outdoors! In L.A.,’ ” she said.  

As the sun set, and Sherak personally handed out popcorn to nearly every attendee (who were stuffed from a Wolfgang Puck dinner of fried chicken and corn salad). The film then started, and the voice of James Earl Jones filled the open air. Indisputable movie magic.