The Dolby Theatre (originally the Kodak Theatre) was completed in 2001 and has been home to the annual Academy Award ceremony since 2002. The theater was designed to be the optimal location in Hollywood for live televised broadcasts. Many of the leading live television shows of the past decade have been filmed in the theater including the American Idol finales, America’s Got Talent, and some of the AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards.
After the Hollywood Hotel was torn down in 1956, the site remained unused until the construction of the Kodak Theatre. Architect David Rockwell took on the job of designing the theater with the needs of the televised Academy Awards ceremony in mind. The theater, which cost ninety-four million dollars to build, opened in 2001. It is located in the Hollywood and Highland Center, near the historic TCL Chinese Theatre and the Loews Hotel. In 2012, the Kodak Theatre was renamed the Dolby Theatre after they became the theater’s sponsor. Dolby and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences signed a deal allowing the Oscars to take place in the theater through 2033.
The Academy Awards have had to move around many times in the past. In, 1929, the first ceremony took place simply in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. As the event grew to be of more interest to the press, the Oscars moved to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in the 1940s, the Pantages Theater in the 1950s, and the Shrine Auditorium and Dorothy Chandler Pavillion of the Music Center of Los Angeles off-and-on until 2002. There were multiple causes for the moves. As the event grew, so did the guest list, and more seating was needed. When the ceremony became an annual TV staple, there needed to be room for cameras and crews. So, the Kodak/Dolby Theatre was designed with all that in mind.
The Dolby Theatre has one of the largest stages in the United States, measuring about one-hundred twenty feet wide by seventy-five feet deep. It also pays homage to the history of the Academy with glass plaques naming every movie to win Best Picture. There is a five-story lobby with a grand stairway and three levels of balcony, plus twenty boxes. Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events provides food and drink for Dolby’s biggest events. The Dolby Theatre offers tours during the day and give fans a chance to see the home of the Oscars up close.