Oscar Theater Wants $4 Million from Kodak

In a conflict that may marginally impact this year’s Oscar ceremony, and more significantly impact future telecasts, the owners of the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles are insisting that Kodak (NYSE:EK) still owes them $4 million as part of its naming rights deal.┬áThis past week, as part of their high-profile bankruptcy filing, Kodak sought to absolve itself of the costly naming agreement. The original pact was signed in 2000 for $72 million, to be paid out over the course of 20 years. The Academy Awards have been held at the Kodak Theater since 2002.

In a filing with the U.S. bankruptcy court, CIM/H&H Media LP, the owners of the theater and the Hollywood & Highland Entertainment complex in which it is located, claim that Kodak has reaped the benefits from the theater’s name over the past year, and now its payment is due. The owners also assert that it’s too late to remove the name from the theater ahead of the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony on February 26, which gives the theater is greatest global exposure each year. A hearing on the issue is set for February 15.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has taken no part in the legal battle, stating that the dispute is between Kodak and CIM. However, what seems to be the inevitable dissolution of the Kodak/CIM licensing deal may have an impact on future deals between the Academy and CIM. The Academy has already informed CIM that, right now, it will not be renewing its option on the theater past the 2013 Oscars.

However, the Academy’s move is largely believed to be a negotiating tactic on behalf of the Academy, as they have made it their public position that they want to stay at the theater — they just want a better deal for it. The repercussions of Kodak’s exit are more likely to be felt when it comes to naming a new sponsor, over which the Academy has rights of approval.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Morris at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com