In the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, California, the Dolby Theatre, originally known as the Kodak Theatre, is an auditorium for live performances that is part of the Ovation Hollywood retail center and entertainment complex. It is located on Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. It has hosted the annual Academy Awards ceremony since it opened on November 9, 2001. On Hollywood Boulevard, it is close to both the El Capitan Theatre and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
The location has also played host to theatrical productions and concerts in addition to the Academy Awards.
At a Glance
Former names: Kodak Theatre (2001–2012)
Location: 6801 Hollywood Boulevard Hollywood, California 90028
Coordinates :34°06′10″N 118°20′25″W
Type: Indoor theatre
Seating type Reserved
Capacity: 3,400 People
Opened November 9, 2001; 21 years ago
An image from 2016 shows the Art Deco column with the 2012–2015 winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture at the bottom and slots at the top for the 2016 and 2017 winners, who had not yet been decided.
The Rockwell Group’s David Rockwell deliberately constructed the theater with the Oscars in mind. The stage is one of the biggest in the country, almost tied with Elliott Hall of Music at Purdue University, spanning 113 feet (34 meters) broad and 60 feet (18 meters) deep. However, with seating for 3,332 people, it is only about half as big as the Hall of Music.
The auditorium has earned a reputation as a location for broadcast theatrical events (such as American Idol and the Academy Awards). An underground cable bunker that crosses under the theater and connects to truck spots on nearby streets is part of the highly functioning cable system that the design team achieved after intensive consultation with top Hollywood production experts. Power is also strong and available. In the orchestra section of the theater, there is a distinctive Rockwell-designed cockpit for camera, sound, and stage management.
Storefronts and Art Deco columns flank the hallway from the main entrance to the grand stairway (leading up to the theater at the back of the shopping center), which is flanked by the names of previous Academy Award winners for Best Picture (with blank spaces left for upcoming Best Picture winners, currently set up to 2071). The building is outfitted before the Academy Awards ceremony in a style evocative of Hollywood film production, often with a new sign on its façade, red drapes to conceal its storefronts, and the iconic red carpet ascending its grand staircase.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) built the theater to get around logistical problems it had when hosting the Academy Awards at other locations like the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Shrine Auditorium. Negotiations for the construction of an entertainment complex at the Mann’s Chinese Theatre on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue began in August 1997 between AMPAS and the Canadian development company TrizecHahn. The Academy and TrizecHahn reached an agreement on a twenty-year lease agreement seven months later, enabling the event to be held at the new location.
Since the 32nd ceremony at the Pantages Theatre in 1960, the Academy Awards had not been held in Hollywood until its 74th edition in 2002, when it was first hosted at the new venue. Since then, it has served as the location for every Academy Awards ceremony, with the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021 being the sole ceremony to be relocated to Union Station due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Up until February 2012, the Eastman Kodak Company paid $75 million for the naming rights to the theater, serving as its sponsor. Early in 2012, Eastman Kodak sought bankruptcy relief, cancelling the naming-rights agreement. Then, at the landlord’s recommendation, the theater’s name was temporarily changed to the Hollywood and Highland Center.
Following a 20-year naming rights agreement between the venue and Dolby Laboratories, it was declared on May 1, 2012, that the name of the place would change to the Dolby Theatre. Dolby first upgraded the audio system by adding Dolby Atmos. The organization intends to keep bringing newer technologies into the theater as they become available.