The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gathered forces in Hollywood today to announce an ambitious program celebrating the experience of seeing movies on the big screen. Academy president Tom Sherak, Los Angeles City Councilmember Eric Garcetti and the Acad’s Managing Director of Programming, Education and Preservation Randy Haberkamp stood in front of a newly erected 40-foot movie screen built for its new Oscar Outdoors venture across the street from the Academy’s Pickford Center on Vine Street in Hollywood, making it clear that the Academy is in Hollywood to stay. This after abandoning plans to build a movie museum on the very same land it purchased in 2006 for an estimated $50 million; instead, the Academy moved it to mid-Wilshire in a joint venture with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“We are thrilled to be deeping our ties to Hollywood. We are hoping this outdoor theatre makes an impact on the community”, Sherak said of the new summer screening program that will bring classics and family movies to an outdoor venue that was formerly the parking lot of the now-shuttered Big Lots clothing store. The Acad did a test run Saturday night for staff, showing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. With shiny new green grass, the Acad announced it will open with an invitation-only screening of Field Of Dreams on May 19. The Oscar Outdoors program will begin for the public June 15 with Casablanca and run for 10 weeks at a cost of $5 for the public and $3 for students and Academy members. Sherak told me the first “family” film selected for Saturday night June 16, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, came about when he was in a meeting with Disney chairman Robert Iger and asked him what his favorite Disney film was. When Iger told him it was Snow White, Sherak decided then and there it would be one of the first films shown.
The Academy also announced several other film programming slates for the summer and fall that will take place at their Samuel Goldwyn Theatre at their Beverly Hills headquarters as well as the Linwood Dunn Theatre in the Hollywood facility. Chief among these will be a series called “The Last 70MM Film Festival”, a six-pack of films in their original big screen format including The Sound Of Music, Spartacus (with a new 70mm print), It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Sleeping Beauty, Grand Prix, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Haberkamp says they call it the “last” because in the new digital universe it may be the last time a 70mm film fest will be held with new prints struck especially for it. He also says they will be showing rare 70mm shorts in front of the main features. There will also be a separate 50th anniversary screening of Oscar winner Lawrence Of Arabia as well as a program devoted to the science of superheroes. In the fall, the Academy announced it will be tributing the 50th anniversary of James Bond along with a salute to Universal’s centennial featuring the studio’s classic monster films and a gallery exhibit.
Additionally, Haberkamp talked about the Acad’s dedication to preserving film with their Film To Film program designed to preserve as many classics as they can on film stock before digital completely takes over. With no common digital format to date, Haberkamp says, “while we recognize the digital future, what concerns us is the digital present” and hopes the Acad’s efforts will help preserve the great films in their archive. The Acad has saved 1000 titles since 1992 and another 300 since instituting Film To Film. “Preservation work may be about the past, but it is really about the future,” Haberkamp says.
Sherak, visibly excited about the Outdoor Academy venture, says they have spent $2 million so far getting the land in shape and has many plans for continuing to use the acreage they now own. He says Oscar Outdoors is just the “beginning”. Quoting a line from their opener Field Of Dreams, he said: “Build it and they will come. We built it, and I really believe they will come.”
Garcetti, noting the Academy’s announcement last week that they have signed on the keep the Oscar show in Hollywood for at least the next 20 years, said, “We are so excited to have been a partner in this with the Academy and look forward to our newest and best motion picture theatre in the city.”