John Williams, the veteran film composer known for his work in the “Star Wars” saga, “Jaws,” “Harry Potter,” “Jurassic Park,” “Saving Private Ryan” and dozens of other iconic films, has had a music building dedicated to him by Sony Pictures Entertainment on the historic Culver City Lot, former home of MGM Studios.
The newly named “John Williams Music Building” honors the Academy, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning composer for his contributions to the world of film and music. With 53 Academy Award nominations, Williams is the most nominated individual in Academy history and has had a prolific career that has spanned more than six decades.
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“The first time I came to this studio was 1940 when my father brought me here to show me the stage. I was about 9 or 10 years old, and I thought, someday, this will all be mine! 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 to put in the work, make some good music, and make the next 100 years as good as the last,” Williams said at the ceremony. “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.”
Directors Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams joined Williams at the ceremony, who spoke in celebration of the composer’s career.
Spielberg, who has worked on 29 projects with Williams including “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jaws,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Indiana Jones” and more, said, “I have grown up with Johnny from the very beginning. 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 production, and I know I’m in your hands.” He added, “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.”
Abrams, who worked directly with Williams during his directorial venture to a galaxy far, far away with the first and last of the “Star Wars” sequel films (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”), described him as a “magical” being, able to tap into other realms to transport viewers into an “utterly human place” through his music.
“There is no more magical being than John Williams. Johnny is able to tap into another realm, a profound, universal, utterly human place. Like an emotional wizard, he galvanizes a world, a spirit. He doesn’t just define the tone and power of a film, but elevates it into the pantheon,” Abrams said. “Every new score of his feels delightfully stunning, fresh, and yet inevitable. He’s filled our lives with some of the greatest art ever produced by humankind. I am endlessly grateful for what he does and who he is.”
Williams also has an extensive history with Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Columbia Pictures, having recorded over 30 scores in the studio’s sound recording building, two with Abrams and 18 with Spielberg. The new building is the home of the Cary Grant Theater, ADR and Foley stages as well as the Barbra Streisand Scoring Stage, which, beyond being the birthplace of the aforementioned scores, has also hosted some of the most renowned composers in film, including Hans Zimmer, Max Steiner, Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, David Newman, Randy Newman and Williams himself.
Though now having achieved a childhood dream of his, Williams has said he’s not ready to leave the film industry just yet, recently doubling down on comments previously made teasing a potential retirement, with him affirming he’s not ruling “anything out” and it’s “possible” he’d make another score.
“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,” Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group said at the ceremony.
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