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The Academy Museum Is Behind Schedule And $133 Million Over Budget

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The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is two years behind schedule on its Academy Museum, and has already blown its $250 million budget. According to Variety, the project may balloon in cost to $400 million, and may drain the organization of its resources.

The Renzo Piano-designed museum broke ground in March of 2016, which a projected completion in late 2017, but those plans seem far off, now.

According to the Academy, the museum, which will be housed at the majorly renovated May Co. building at Wilshire and Fairfax, will include 50,000 square feet of exhibit space, an educational studio, two theaters, restaurant and cafe space, and a showpiece 1,000-seat spherical theater.

“We are really concerned right now that we won’t have enough money,” a source quoted by Variety as an "Academy insider" said. “This could be a catastrophic situation.”

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The organization earns more than four-fifths of its revenue from the Oscar TV broadcast — $113 million last year. It uses that money to pay for film preservation, educational programs, and grants to film festivals. If it cannot raise the money to pay for the museum, then those programs could be on the chopping block.

Anxiety and mounting pressure over the project led to a closed-door meeting of the Academy's board late last month. At stake: whether Dawn Hudson, the Academy's CEO, would maintain her position. Ultimately, (by what seems to be Annette Bening's urging) Hudson was re-signed on a three-year contract.

According to the Los Angeles Times, following Hudson's contract renewal, Academy members were sent an email stating the board is “excited that Dawn will continue the Academy’s goals of globalization and inclusion, guide us towards the successful opening of an unprecedented movie museum, and lead us toward next year’s 90th Oscars.”

The name of the game now for the Academy is fundraising, continues Variety.

In fall of 2015, the Academy took on $360 million in debt to finance the museum. At the time, the organization planned to raise the full $388 million in cash and pledges by the end of 2017 — a goal that now seems remote — in order to pay off the bonds over 20 years.

LAist has reached out to the Academy for comment on this piece, but has not heard back by time of publication.

Meanwhile, Bob Rehme, former president of the Academy, told Variety that he is hopeful that chasing this white whale is worth it.

“It might be a year later. So what? The key thing is to get it built, and have a museum for the motion picture industry. … Once they build it, people will come to it.”