Buffalo, New York: Eastman Kodak Co. wants to end its contract for naming rights to the glamorous Los Angeles theater that hosts the Academy Awards as it tries to improve its financial position enough to move out of bankruptcy.
The photography pioneer's financial advisers say the benefits of having the company's name on the 3,300-seat Kodak Theatre aren't worth the contract's cost, according to a motion filed in US Bankruptcy Court this week.
Under the contract with CIM Group of Los Angeles, details of which were not disclosed in the court filing, Kodak "pays a significant annual amount for, among other things, the naming rights related to the Kodak Theatre," which opened in 2001.
The theater's website describes a "20-year marketing partnership" that "was one of the most significant non-sports corporate sponsorships in history."
"Kodak is proud of its important role in the entertainment industry, and our long-standing relationship with film makers," said a statement from Rochester-based Kodak, on whose film more than seven decades of the Oscars' "Best Pictures" were printed. "Our motion today reflects our commitment to ensure that we are maximizing value for our entertainment customers, creditors and other stakeholders."
The 132-year-old company filed for bankruptcy protection on Jan. 19 after years of cost-cutting and turnaround efforts.
The Kodak Theatre, with its five-level lobby, contains a George Eastman Room - named after Kodak's founder - which displays one of the nine Oscar statuettes that Kodak has been awarded through the years for its scientific and technical achievements and contributions to the industry, according to the theater's website.
The theater been owned by real estate investment firm CIM Group since 1994. The firm didn't immediately comment when contacted Thursday by The Associated Press.
Kodak is required under its bankruptcy financing terms to produce a reorganization plan by February 15, 2013. US Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper in New York has given the company permission to borrow an initial $650 million from Citigroup Inc. He also set a June 30 deadline for Kodak to seek his approval of bidding procedures for the sale of 1,100 patents that analysts estimate could fetch at least $2 billion.
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