Delays and costs stack up for under-pressure Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Los Angeles’ Academy Museum of Motion Pictures isn’t following the Hollywood script during its construction, with skyrocketing costs and lengthy delays holding up the long-awaited project, according to new reports.

The Renzo Piano-designed museum, which will be dedicated to exploring and curating the history and future of the moving image – was originally budgeted at US$250m (€233m, £195m) when it was first conceived several years ago, but since then costs have swollen to US$388m (€362m, £302.5m), with projections pushing that figure as high as US$400m (€373m, £312m).

Breaking ground in March last year, fundraising delays also led to construction delays, which meant a completion date of December 2017 was pushed back several times. An opening date is now set for April 2019 – nearly two years behind schedule.

Variety reports that the Academy’s board met last month to discuss the position of CEO Dawn Hudson. According to the publication, one board member said the project was “heading for an iceberg”, and expressed a lack of confidence in Hudson’s leadership. Hudson would survive the meeting, with a vote to extend her contract by three years, but there have been concerns that the Academy, which earns nearly four fifths of its annual revenue from the Oscar TV broadcast – US$113m (€105m, £88m) in 2016 – is running low on funds.

Construction is now reaching a crucial stage in development, with the 130-foot glass sphere likened by some to the Death Star, about to be built. Architect Zoltan Pali was originally brought in to work with Piano on the design, but left the project after raising doubts over his vision, particularly the eye-catching sphere.

To add to confusion, developers Morley Builders and Taslimi Construction were selected to build the project but after a year of construction were fired, with the museum saying a new firm would be better equipped to handle the complexities of constructing the dome. Previous construction delays had been attributed to design changes, construction requirements and heavy rains in the winter.

To be located next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which is currently undergoing an expansion, the Academy museum will cover 290,000sq ft (26,940sq m) and will include exhibition galleries, a cinema, storage space for collections, educational space and an outdoor plaza to include a large Oscar statuette.

LACMA has received US$36.1m (€33.7m £28.1m) for a 110-year lease of a former department store on Museum land. The May Co building has historic status in the city and as part of the development, it will be restored to its former glory – to how it looked when it first opened in 1939.

When open, The Academy predicts a total of 860,000 visitors to the museum on an annual basis, with 150 permanent jobs created.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures  Oscars  museum  Los Angeles  Dawn Hudson  LACMA  visitor attraction 
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Los Angeles’ Academy Museum of Motion Pictures isn’t following the Hollywood script during its construction, with skyrocketing costs and lengthy delays holding up the long-awaited project, according to new reports. The Renzo Piano-designed museum, which will be dedicated to exploring and curating the history and future of the moving image – was originally budgeted at US$250m (€233m, £195m) when it was first conceived several years ago, but since then costs
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Construction is now reaching a crucial stage in development, with the 130-foot glass sphere likened by some to the Death Star, about to be built
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