Oscar Theater Owner Says Kodak Must Pay $4 Million Again This Year

The bankrupt photography company wants out of its naming rights deal for the theater in Hollywood where the Academy Awards are held, but landlord says its too late for this year and wants to be paid. A hearing has been set less than two weeks before the next Oscars.

A hearing has been set in federal court in New York on Feb. 15 to determine if bankrupt Eastman Kodak can take its name off the theater in Hollywood where the Academy Awards are held and stop making payments on its 20-year naming-rights contract.

CIM/H&H Media LP, which owns the Hollywood & Highland complex, said in a filing with the U.S. bankruptcy court that Kodak has already benefited from the name recognition for this year and it is too late to take its name off the theater and many related venues before the 2012 ceremony Feb. 26.

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CIM wants Kodak to at least make the $4 million payment due for this year on the $72 million pact that was signed in 2000. This follows a request last week by Kodak to be allowed to get out of the contract and to be relieved of having to make the payments.

The first Academy Awards in the theater took place in March 2002.

In late December, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which puts on the awards, told CIM it would not renew its option on the theater after the 2013 Oscars. The Academy has said that this was a way to force CIM to renegotiate the contract and that it would prefer to remain in the Hollywood theater. However, if they can’t come to a deal or if the Academy doesn’t like the new naming-rights sponsor, the Oscars could seek a new home.

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CIM is already in discussions with the Academy about a renewal.

The Academy has taken the position that the legal battle is between CIM and Kodak and that it is not a party to the case. However, the Academy has the right to approve any new naming sponsor.