Netflix has finalized a deal to buy Hollywood’s historic Egyptian Theatre for an undisclosed price, closing a transaction that had been in the works for more than a year.
The acquisition represents a major milestone in Netflix’s effort to become part of the Hollywood filmmaking community. Major cinema chains like AMC and Regal had been reluctant to play films from the streaming service, since Netflix wouldn’t adhere to the same exclusive windows, usually consisting of 90 days, that other studios abide by. Now, Netflix has a venue to showcase its own content.
The streaming giant announced Friday that the Egyptian will remain the home of the American Cinematheque and the organization’s curation team will continue to autonomously program content over the weekend. Netflix said it invest in the theatre’s renovation and will use the facility for special events, screenings and premieres during the week.
“The Egyptian Theatre is an incredible part of Hollywood history and has been treasured by the Los Angeles film community for nearly a century,” said Scott Stuber, head of Netflix Films. “We’re honored to partner with the American Cinematheque to preserve the theater’s storied legacy and continue providing remarkable film experiences for audiences. We look forward to
expanding programming at the theater in ways that will benefit both cinema lovers and the community.”
The Egyptian Theatre was opened in 1922 by Sid Grauman on Hollywood Boulevard, just east of McCadden Place. The facility has an ornate style evoking ancient Egypt with an open-air courtyard. Inside, the stage is flanked by carved columns and models of the Sphinx. The first premiere held at the Egyptian was “Robin Hood,” starring Douglas Fairbanks, Wallace Beery, Sam De Grasse, Enid Bennett, and Alan Hale.
The facility was closed in 1992 and the American Cinematheque purchased the Egyptian from the city for $1 with the provision “that this historical landmark would be restored to its original grandeur and re-opened as a movie theatre showcasing the organization’s celebrated public programming.” It was re-opened in 1998 after Cinematheque completed a $12.8 million renovation.
“The American Cinematheque was honored to bring the Egyptian back to life in 1998, and together with Netflix we are thrilled to continue this stewardship by restoring it once again for a new generation of film fans to experience movies on the big screen,” said Rick Nicita, chairman of the American Cinematheque. “The Egyptian Theatre remains our Hollywood home and we are grateful to both the City of Los Angeles and the Attorney General of the State of California as we accept this incredible opportunity that will greatly benefit the American Cinematheque.”
In 2016, the Egyptian Theatre was retrofitted to begin screening 35mm nitrate film and is now one of only four theaters in the United States capable of showing the fragile and flammable film stock. Renovations by Netflix will include upgrading the equipment.
“Love for film is inseparable from L.A.’s history and identity,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We are working toward the day when audiences can return to theaters –– and this extraordinary partnership will preserve an important piece of our cultural heritage that can be shared for years to come.”
The Cinematheque will continue to program and operate a second historic theater, the Aero, in Santa Monica.