Warner Bros. has pulled out of its initial plan to construct an aerial tram to the iconic Hollywood sign.
In 2018, plans were announced for the studio to spend $100 million to build the “Hollywood Skyway,” which would have allowed visitors to take a six-minute ride from WB’s visitor parking lot in Burbank up to the top of Mount Lee where the Hollywood sign has stood since 1923. Now the studio has backed out, citing safety concerns and a desire to instead focus on its “core business interests.”
For years, residents who live in the hills near the Hollywood sign have complained about the massive influx of traffic from tourists and selfie seekers that clog the steep and narrow streets. In theory, the Hollywood Skyway project would have helped alleviate some of that traffic: visitors wouldn’t have to use Google Maps to figure out their own way up to get a great view of the sign, and instead would have been able to park at a WB parking structure across the street from the studio lot before taking the tram up to the sign. There would have been a visitor’s center that explained the history of the sign, and WB would have shared revenue from all of the tram rides with the city.
But according to Deadline, Warner Bros. is no longer interested in this venture. “After exploring the challenging construction issues, required zoning changes and protocols necessary to protect guests during emergencies, we determined that our focus would be better placed on our core business interests,” Warner Bros. said in a statement. “We know there are other solutions being explored to provide access to the iconic Hollywood sign and address neighborhood congestion. We look forward to seeing those come to fruition for the citizens of Los Angeles and the millions of tourists eager to visit the sign each year.”
The “emergencies” aspect of that statement stood out to me as one of the biggest factors here: California has experienced especially intense and horrific wildfires in recent years, and will likely continue to suffer extreme weather events as climate change persists. And the threat of a massive earthquake – the so-called “Big One” – looms over the state like the sword of Damocles. I can imagine AT&T executives imagining the amount of money they might make from a shared profit deal with the city from every ride taken and juxtaposing that with potential news footage of visitors caught in a gondola as a wildfire rages beneath them, and deciding that the money is not worth it.
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