In advance of Sunday's Oscars, the Kodak Theatre officially loses its name

Posted by · 1:23 pm · February 22nd, 2012

You might recall the story a couple of weeks back about the Kodak Theater potentially undergoing a moniker change, as Kodak, amid financial reorganization, wanted out of its deal with the Hollywood & Highland complex where the annual Oscars are held. In a nutshell, the company no longer afford the hefty yearly price tag of maintaining the naming rights to the facility.

Well, it looks like that change is already in effect. Over at The Odds, Steve Pond’s sharp eyes caught this bit of language in a press release announcing Meryl Streep as one of this year’s Oscarcast presenters: “Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, from the Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live by the ABC Television Network.” Hollywood & Highland. Not Kodak. Most of us probably just slid that email on over to the trash, but good on Pond for catching it and ringing up the Academy to confirm.

And confirm they did. “AMPAS confirmed to TheWrap that the show, the pre-show and any additional advance promotion will now refer to the Oscars as taking place at the Hollywood & Highland Center,’ the mall where the theater is located,” Pond writes.

Last week a bankruptcy court granted Kodak its wish to back out of its deal, leaving Hollywood & Highland with $4 million less in its wallet this year than it was expecting. The search will surely be on for another sponsor, though as long as the Oscars are held there, the Academy gets pre-approval.

Honestly, though, I’ve been wondering lately if it’s not time to maybe move on from the Kod…er…the theatre formerly known as the Kodak. Academy president Tom Sherak tells Pond that there are no other negotiations taking place other than with Hollywood & Highland and it looks like the ceremony is likely to stay there, but still, I wonder. There isn’t a lot to choose from, though.

The ceremony has previously been held at venues like the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Shrine Auditorium on the University of Southern California campus (where the annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are still held). Each of those was a downtown venue, which presents its own challenges, but I say maybe it’s worth that kind of a change of pace (particularly with the on-going effort to clean up the area — a similar effort was underway in Hollywood years back, which the Hollywood & Highland complex largely signified).

Why not the Nokia Theater a few blocks north of the Shrine? The Independent Spirit Awards gave a tented parking garage roof show a shot there two years ago and quickly retreated to the beach in Santa Monica, but the LA Film Festival has had a decent enough time of things being headquartered downtown.

Additionally, with the steady jokification of the historic Chinese Theater (which sits next to the Hollywood & Highland theatre) by its new owners doesn’t provide the same classic sheen it once did. Though maybe the Academy wants to lean in that sort of a populist direction.

Is there an option near LACMA? Probably not, but that would be nice, given the recent partnership over the Academy museum. I’m just thinking out loud here.

Anyway, it’s been a good run, but it never hurts to explore other options. Just remember, Sunday night’s Oscars will not be taking place at the Kodak Theatre. They’ll be taking place at the Hollywood & Highland Center.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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