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Netflix Buys LA’s Egyptian Theatre With Plans To Restore It


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After more than a year of negotiations, streaming giant Netflix purchased one of Los Angeles’s historic treasures, the nearly century-old Egyptian Theatre. It opened in 1922 and premiered Robin Hood, starring Robert Fairbanks. Like all movie theatres across Los Angeles, the Egyptian Theatre closed down in mid-March due to concerns over the novel coronavirus. Talks between Netflix and American Cinematique reportedly started in late 2018 or 2019. The original announcement led to directors, like Jon Favreau, reaching out to ensure that the change of ownership will not affect the programming offered at The Egyptian.

The theatre represents the cultural heritage and history of film in L.A. It closed for four years in 1992 under the ownership of United Artists Theatres. Since 1996, the non-profit, American Cinematique, chaired by Rick Nicita, owned the theatre, which the group purchased from the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency for $1. As of 1998, the theater, which formerly seated 1,100 guests, now features a 616-seat auditorium, in addition to a 78-seat screening room named after director Steven Spielberg.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Netflix purchased the historic theatre, designed by Sid Grauman, which held the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 silent film The Ten Commandments. The streaming company assures preservationists and fans of cinema the intent to maintain the best interests of the community. The deal is estimated to be worth tens of millions. In an interview, Nicita revealed about the Netflix deal,
"The purchase will provide the organization with a much-needed influx of cash to fund a renovation of the venue and put on more of its signature programming, including filmmaker Q&As and film festivals. The nonprofit may even be able to fly in filmmakers for events, rather than trying to catch them while they happen to be in town."

Though not the most obvious union, it makes sense for Netflix to purchase a physical theatre to host future premieres, as well as maintain a history some critics say it challenges. Netflix assured American Cinematique would continue managing the theatres, hosting screenings Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The sale brings the streaming platform closer to established filmmakers and new talent by offering a high-profile venue to showcase their work.

Purchasing the Egyptian creates a way for Netflix to engage with a long history of film and contribute to its preservation. The act of purchasing not only a theatre, which produces a home-base for releasing productions but the accompanied history also adds a level of credibility to its place in the movie industry. The sale represents the bridging of traditions with the future of television and film.


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