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The Dolby Theatre, built at a cost of over $90 million at the Hollywood and Highland Center, is best known as the home of the Oscar telecast. The theatre also hosts concerts and occasional legit shows. This 2013 view of the theatre's entrance appears courtesy of Dolby Labs.
Phone: 323-308-6300 Website: dolbytheatre.com | theatre tours | on the Dolby Labs site
Opened: 2001 as the Kodak Theatre
Architect: Rockwell Group
The entrance at night. Photo: Dolby Labs - 2013
It became the Dolby Theatre in 2012. It's had lots of tech upgrades in recent years including sound work since the involvement of Dolby Labs. It's used as a showcase for the company's products including the ATMOS multichannel surround format.
The theatre, like the center itself, wasn't a great success in its early years. The complex is now owned by the CIM group after the original developers, Trizec-Hahn, sold it at a substantial loss.
Status: Currently open for occasional concert bookings and other events -- and the annual Oscar show. Along with the new Dolby name on the building in 2012, the AMPAS announced an a new rental deal to use the venue for the Oscars for an additional 20 years (through 2033). The initial deal was set to expire after the 2013 telecast.
Kodak, due to their 2012 bankruptcy filing, successfully petitioned the court on February 15, 2012 to void its 20 year $75 million "naming rights deal" calling the venue the Kodak Theatre. It was a deal that began in 2000.
The theatre was, for a while, the home for the Cirque du Soleil spectacular "Iris" devoted to the history of film. The Cirque show, which up sucked many millions in production cost (including a reported $30 million in renovations to the theatre), was supposed to be a permanent tourist attraction for the center. It closed with big losses in early 2013. The L.A. Times had a story about the closure.
The City of Los Angeles became the owner in 2017 with a purchase for $100,000 from CRA/LA, the agency charged with winding down the Community Redevelopment Agency's operations. Operation of the building did not change with the sale as shopping mall operator CIM has a 99 year lease. Bianca Barragan had the story in "City of LA closes escrow...," an August 15 piece on Curbed L.A. The city had issued $43.21 million in bonds for the 1999 construction and in addition is owed $28.3 million by CIM to repay a city loan for improvements for the show "Iris."
A proscenium view of the Dolby Theatre. The shot was included in a December 2012 L.A. Times article "Owner of Dolby Theatre days it will comply with city loan deal" about the venue's repayment of loans extended to the Cirque du Soleil "Iris" production. It's an Al Seib photo.
A photo by David Walter Banks giving us a sense of the height of the three balcony auditorium. It appeared with "Dolby hopes to lure movie fans back...," a May 2015 SF Gate story by Benny Evangelista that included photos of both the Dolby Theatre and the Vine Theatre, a newly revamped demo house for the company's Dolby Vision concept.
This main floor Dolby Labs photo is part the 2012 Silver Screening Reviews post "Oscars venue reopens as Dolby Theatre." It's a look at the trusses for the Dolby ATMOS sound system speakers before they're hoisted up.
A look the boxes at 1st balcony level by David Walter Banks. It appeared with the May 2015 SF Gate story about Dolby's new products.
The rear of the auditorium. Thanks to Dolby Labs for permission to use their photos. See the page about the Dolby Theatre on the Dolby Labs website.
One end of the projection booth at the Dolby. It's a 2015 photo by David Walter Banks from SF Gate.
An elephant atop the Hollywood and Highland Center -- an homage to D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance." Photo: Bill Counter - 2007
The Hollywood sign as seen through an arch at the Hollywood & Highland Center. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007
Looking west on Hollywood Blvd in 2007 when the venue was still named the Kodak Theatre. The Dolby Theatre is back deep in the Hollywood and Highland complex. That's the El Capitan on the left and the Chinese down the block at the center of the photo. Photo: Bill Counter
In this 2000 view we're looking across the construction of the theatre formerly known as the Kodak toward Hollywood Blvd. and the El Capitan. The photo was a post on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page by Alexander Horn.
A 2000 construction shot by Julian Garcia. He added it as a comment to the photo above on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page.
More Information: See the Dolby website for more about the building and Dolby's involvement. Audio pioneer Ray Dolby died at age 80 in 2013. The New York Times ran a story about his work.
Hadley Meares had a fine February 2017 story: "How the Oscars Spent 73 Years Looking For a Home" on Curbed L.A. Hollywood in Hi-Def had a 2012 story about the building getting outfitted with the new Dolby ATMOS sound system.
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