The Dolby Theatre (formerly known as the Kodak Theatre) is a live-performance auditorium in the Hollywood and Highland shopping mall and entertainment complex, on Hollywood Boulevard and North Highland Avenue, in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, United States. Since its opening on November 9, 2001, the theater has hosted the Academy Awards ceremonies (the Oscars), initially held there in March 2002. It is the first permanent home for these annual awards ceremonies.
The theater was designed by David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, with Theatre Projects Consultants, specifically with the Oscar ceremonies in mind. Though the stage is one of the largest in the United States — roughly tied with the Edward C. Elliott Hall of Music at Purdue University — measuring 113 ft (34 m) wide and 60 ft (18 m) deep, its seating capacity is only about half the Hall of Music’s, accommodating 3,332 people.
The result of astute planning and technical design, the auditorium is particularly successful as a venue for televised theatrical performance (improving production values for American Idol and the Academy Awards). The architectural team consulted extensively with leading production personnel in Hollywood, achieving a highly functional cable infrastructure, with an underground cable bunker that crosses under the theater to truck locations on adjacent streets. Power is also substantial and accessible. The theater has a unique, Rockwell-designed cockpit in the orchestra seating area for camera, sound, and stage management.
The hall from the front entrance to the grand stairway (leading up to the theater) is flanked by storefronts, as well as Art Deco columns displaying the names of past recipients of the Academy Award for Best Picture, with blank spaces left for future Best Picture winners, well into the 21st century. Currently the columns are set for Best Picture up to 2071. In a fashion reminiscent of Hollywood movie-making, the building is dressed before the Academy Awards ceremony, sometimes with a different sign on its facade, red drapery to hide its storefronts, and the famous red carpet running up its grand stairway.
The theater is rented to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for weeks before Oscar night. Having hosted the awards annually since 2002, the theater is best known for this event.
During the rest of the year, it hosts numerous live concerts, awards shows, symphony performances, and other events. Artists who have appeared there include Adele, Neil Young, Christina Aguilera, Elissa, Céline Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Dixie Chicks, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé Knowles, Alicia Keys, Elvis Costello, Vanilla Ice, Charice, Philipp Kirkorov, The Corrs, Barry Manilow, Prince, The New Power Generation, Ian Anderson, David Gilmour, Valy Hedjasi, Shohreh Solati, Leila Forouhar, Andy Madadian, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Broadway. It has provided the stage for musicals, dance shows, symphony performances, and opera.
The theater was sponsored, until February 2012, by the Eastman Kodak Company, which paid $75 million for naming rights to the building. In early 2012, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection, and thus ended its naming-rights deal. Then, the theater’s name was temporarily changed to The Hollywood and Highland Centre, at the suggestion of the venue’s landlord. On May 1, 2012, it was announced that the venue would be renamed the Dolby Theatre, after Dolby Laboratories signed a 20-year naming-rights deal. Dolby updated the sound system first by installing Dolby Atmos. The company plans to continue updating the auditorium with newer technologies as they become available.
From September 2011 until early 2013, the venue was home to the permanent Los Angeles Cirque Du Soleil show, Iris, a 90-minute, acrobatic journey through the world of cinema, featuring an original score by Danny Elfman. The show made significant changes to the theater, including adding lifts deep under the original floor. It was announced on November 29, 2012 that Iris would close on January 19, 2013 after only two seasons, due to lack of profit. After hosting the Academy Awards on February 24, 2013, the theater reopened for touring acts and headliners.
It has also been the site of ceremonies for the annual AFI Life Achievement Award, the ESPY Awards for excellence in sports performance, the BET Awards and American Idol finals. In April 2006, it was home to the 33rd Daytime Emmy Awards and hosted the 34th Daytime Emmy Awards on June 15, 2007.
The theatre has also hosted the Miss USA pageant twice, in 2004 and 2007.
From March 13th to 29th 2014, the theatre played host to PaleyFest, a major television festival held by the Paley Center for Media. The event was held at the theatre again in 2015.
While the Dolby Theatre has most often hosted public cultural events, such as concerts and other performances, it has also occasionally served private purposes, such as weddings.