This week, composer John Williams made history. He was nominated for his 54th Academy Award for his delightful Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny score. It wasn’t the only honor recently received by Williams, who now has a building named after him on the Sony lot.
Williams is famous for the likes of Jaws and Superman. He’s inspired, moved, terrified, thrilled, and broken the hearts of audiences. Name the emotion, and Williams has captured it. Just last summer when he performed at The Hollywood Bowl, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the Schindler’s List theme was played.
At the Culver City Lot, the legend scored the remake of Sabrina, Nixon, and Star Wars: Episode VIII, to name a few. It’s a history Sony wants to celebrate. “It is with great pride that we dedicate this building to John Williams for having made such a profound impact on not just Hollywood, but on the lives of billions of people around the world who have been touched by the magic of his musical genius,” said Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures.
The John Williams Music Building features the Cary Grant Theater, ADR and Foley stages, and the Barbra Streisand Scoring Stage, which is one of the most famous scoring venues in the industry. The Wizard of Oz, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, An American in Paris, and Doctor Zhivago were scored there. In other words, a fitting home for the John Williams name.
Tom Rothman, who’s the Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group, is one of the rare studio heads with a great sense of film history. For years, he wrote and hosted Fox History, celebrating Fox classics. He knows the significance of celebrating artists contributions to cinema, especially on a lot. “This month marks the 100th anniversary of Columbia Pictures. How fitting the timing that to the pantheon of names that grace the buildings on this historic lot – like Capra, Poitier, Lear, Thalberg – we add Williams, the greatest film composer of all time, to the very building where so much of the joy he created happened,” said Tom Rothman, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group.
As for the man himself, Williams was in attendance for the ceremony and couldn’t say thank you enough. “The first time I came to this studio was 1940 when my father brought me here to show me the stage and I was about 9 or 10 years old, and I thought, some day this will all be mine!” Williams said. “It’s finally come to be – it’s only taken me 92 years to get here! My hope and challenge for the next 100 years is put in the work and make some good music and make the next 100 years as good as the last. This is bigger than ‘thank you’ – there are no words that can capture it in the English language; our language stops there. This is beyond an honor.”
Two frequent collaborators of Williams, filmmakers J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, were present, as well, and had nothing but love for the maestro. “I have grown up with Johnny from the very beginning,” Spielberg said. “What he’s done for me is something I haven’t been able to imagine. This building is where all my stress dissipates…when I finally get to this stage of a production, and I know I’m in your hands. In the end I don’t recognize the movies as mine but as ours. Thank you Johnny, my movies would not be the same without you.”
P.S. John Williams’ score for Dracula (1979) is excellent.