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In a year replete with films that enthusiastically celebrate the birth and development of cinema, it is more than a little bit disheartening to see one of its strongholds fading. As part of its filing for federal bankruptcy, the Eastman Kodak company is asking to have its name removed from the theater in the Hollywood & Highland complex where the Academy Awards have been held since 2002.
Kodak signed a contract worth $75 million over 20 years with CIM group (the company that owns the Hollywood & Highland mall) for the naming rights to the theater in 2000. Kodak has since suffered a financial crisis that has made the $4 million-a-year payment unfeasible and created a need for a complete reorganization.
The Wrap reports the filing states:
“The Debtors have evaluated the Contract in consultation with their professional advisors and determined that any benefit related to these rights likely does not exceed or equal the costs associated with the Contract.”
The chapter 11 fallout will affect companies across the entertainment industry. Kodak owes millions to nearly all the major studios.
In the case of the Hollywood and Highland center, if Kodak is released from the deal, CIM group will have the option to seek a new sponsor, but the Academy may, or may not, approve. AMPAS has already told CIM that they will not opt to renew their contract for the 2013 show. The withdrawal threat is likely a negotiating tactic, though. If Kodak is able to break the contract and forgo this year’s payment, then CIM group will need the Oscarcast in order to attract a substantial sponsor.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Nokia Theater L.A. LIVE in downtown Los Angeles plans to bid for the show, but official negotiations have not begun.
The two Best Picture frontrunners, “Hugo” and “The Artist,” each act as loving tributes to the silent film era and the evolution of moviemaking as we know it. There are few companies that have been as directly connected with cinema’s upbringing as Eastman Kodak has. All things must change, of course, but it is aching to see this giant stumble, and possible fall.
For year-round entertainment news and commentary follow @JRothC on Twitter.
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