As we get ready to take in the 90th Annual Academy Awards this Sunday, thoughts turn to Oscar predictions, glamorous gowns and after parties.

The grand affair takes place at the Dolby Theatre at Highland and Hollywood Blvd. I used to live within a 10-minute walk of the immense venue (one of the largest in the US), but the Dolby came years after I left LA for San Francisco (and later The Netherlands).

Dolby Theatre

Since March 2002, the theater has hosted every Academy Awards show. 15 years down the road and it’s still serving its intended purpose – hosting the Oscars – alongside live concerts and other key events throughout the year.

David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group designed this 3,332-seater, complete with a cable infrastructure that includes an underground cable bunker crossing under the theater to trucks on nearby streets. The theater’s orchestra pit has a unique design to accommodate sound, camera and stage management.

WEBN Oscars Special: On the Red Carpet
[Flickr photo by WEBN-TV]

The Art Deco columns display names of past Academy Award for Best Picture winners, leaving room for future winners up to 2071. The building is rented out for weeks in preparation for Hollywood’s big night, with a famous red carpet running up the grand stairway.

Did you know that Eastman Kodak sponsored the theater until 2012? $75 million gave them naming rights — until that fateful day they filed for bankruptcy.

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In mid-2012, Dolby Labs inked a 20-year naming rights deal and updated the sound system with Dolby Atmos surround sound technology. The theatre’s in good hands as Dolby plans to continue adding newer tech as it becomes available.

The iconic venue also played host to Cirque du Soleil’s Iris production but due to lack of profit, that show closed after only two seasons.

Live shows of America’s Got Talent are also produced here. Speaking of talent, Alicia Keys, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, Adele, Prince, David Gilmour, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and numerous other acts have performed here over the years.


So wherever you’re watching the Oscars on Sunday night, enjoy history unfold inside a venue made for the stars.

Where not expressly mentioned, photos courtesy of Disney | ABC Television Group on Flickr.

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