Disney Chief Bob Iger to Chair Academy Museum Fundraising Campaign

Tom Hanks and Annette Bening will also join as co-chairs of the money-gathering push to build the museum

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is enlisting some Hollywood heavy hitters to help raise money for the proposed Academy Museum.

Walt Disney Co. president and CEO Bob Iger will serve as chairman of the capital campaign for the upcoming museum. Actress Annette Bening and actor-producer Tom Hanks will join as co-chairs.

“We want people to know that this is for real," Sherak told TheWrap on Wednesday afternoon. "With Bob involved, that makes it real. That makes the statement that this dream is real to us, and we are going to do it."

In October, the group behind the Oscars announced plans to locate a museum in the old May Company department store building, which is owned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art 

Also read: Academy Museum Finds Home at LACMA (Exclusive)

Though Los Angeles is the center of the film industry, the city has yet to have a top-shelf museum devoted to its most famous industry. With permanent and rotating exhibitions, the museum is intended to rectify that by documenting the history of the motion picture industry. 

The proposed Academy Museum will occupy a 300,000 square-foot space.

“The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures represents a bold new way of saving and presenting film history,” Iger said in a statement. “It will innovate not only the museum experience, but also the public’s relationship to the art form.”

Sherak told TheWrap that he, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and COO Ric Robertson met with Iger last week and asked him to become involved; the Disney chief, whose ABC network has televised the Oscars for 36 years and has a contract to do so for another 10, asked for a few days to think about it before agreeing to become involved over lunch on Monday.

With Iger's involvement, Sherak said, AMPAS governors Bening and Hanks immediately agreed to serve as co-chairs.

Sherak says the fundraising will start in earnest after the first of the year, and that he expects the bulk of the money to come in over the first year.

"Economic conditions are not that great," he admitted. "The bottom line is, it's still going to be hard. But we think that we have enough passionate people in this town to get us where we need to go."

Sherak would not say how much the Academy needed to raise for the new museum, except to say that it would be "a lot lot lot lot less" than the estimated $400 million that would have been required to build a museum from scratch on Vine Street, which AMPAS once planned to do.

That time around, fundraising efforts were halted by the economic meltdown. The Academy still owns the land on which that museum would have been built, adjacent to its Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood.

"This time, we are not building a building," he said. "We are designing interior spaces in a building that already exists."

The first $50 million toward the museum at LACMA, he added, would be provided by the Academy.

“I am thrilled to be part of this crucial phase in what will be an extraordinary landmark,” Bening remarked in a statement. “It will give so much to our city, to historians, and to visitors from all over the world, who love movies.”

Additional reporting by Steve Pond