Billy Wilder Theater
The Hammer Museum and the UCLA Film & Television Archive have opened the doors of the new Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum. A roster of exceptional programs began in December 2006 at this unique nexus of film, art, and cultural dialogue.
Made possible by a $5 million gift from Audrey L. Wilder and designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture, the state-of-the-art, 295-seat Billy Wilder Theater is the new home of the Archive’s renowned cinematheque and of the Hammer’s engaging and provocative public programs. Located at the Hammer Museum in Westwood Village, the Billy Wilder Theater offers one of the most advanced, comfortable, and intimate cultural venues on the West Coast, where the Museum and the Archive are now beginning to present their exciting programs.
The Billy Wilder Theater is situated on the Courtyard level of the Hammer Museum. Equipped with the highest standards of film and video projection and sound, the theater, which cost $7.5 million to complete, is one of the few in the country where audiences may watch the entire spectrum of moving images in their original formats: from the earliest silent films requiring variable speed projection to the most current digital cinema and video. Though built first of all as an ideal screening room for the moving image, the Billy Wilder Theater also provides an intimate and technically advanced showcase for events including artists’ lectures, literary readings, musical concerts, and public conversations.
“The opening of the Billy Wilder Theater marks an important moment in the Hammer Museum’s history, as we complete this space at the heart of a building that has been unfinished since the Museum’s opening in 1990,” said Ann Philbin, Director of the Hammer Museum. “We are pleased to partner with the UCLA Film & Television Archive to bring to our audiences a rich program of cinema from around the world, while expanding the scope and possibility of our own public programs that have made the Hammer a vibrant and indispensable cultural center in Los Angeles.”
“We are honored that our new home will carry the name of one of the most gifted filmmakers of the 20th century,” said Robert Rosen, Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. “We know that this elegant, high-tech Theater will match the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s reputation as one of the country’s preeminent cinematheques.”
Audrey L. Wilder named the Billy Wilder Theater in honor of her late husband, the Academy Award–winning Hollywood screenwriter and director. Its 2006 opening coincides with the centennial of his birth.
“Billy would have been so proud to have this superb theater bearing his name open right in our own neighborhood of Westwood,” said Audrey L. Wilder. “While film may have been his passion, his other love was art. So it seems especially fitting that this theater be located in the Hammer Museum setting. I hope it serves to enrich the cultural life of the city through film, art, and conversation. And Billy would have been so relieved to get the tax break.”