American Cinematheque and Netflix announced Friday that they are joining forces to preserve the Egyptian Theatre, the site of Hollywood’s first movie premiere, and Netflix will take over most weekday programming at the historic venue.
The nonprofit American Cinematheque said the collaboration with the streaming service will allow it to expand the scope and diversity of its movie and event programming, including film festivals and educational outreach.
Member-supported American Cinematheque, established in 1984, is housed at the theater and will remain there, programming Friday, Saturday and Sunday events. Netflix will use the renovated space 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,” he said. “We look forward to expanding programming at the theater in ways that will benefit both cinema lovers and the community.”
The size of Netflix’s investment in the storied theater was not disclosed in the companies’ announcement.
Rick Nicita, chairman of the nonprofit organization, said 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.”
“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.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti imagined a day when Angelenos will safely return to movie theaters.
“Love for film is inseparable from L.A.’s history and identity,” he said. “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.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said the partnership “is a win-win for film, historic preservation, and the arts. The collaboration ensures the cultural destination remains in the heart of Hollywood for decades to come.”
The classic movie palace was built in 1922 during the silent film era and is an iconic reminder of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The Egyptian was the site of the first Hollywood movie premiere, “Robin Hood,” which starred Douglas Fairbanks. Cecil B. DeMille, Charlie Chaplin, Jesse L. Lasky and Mary Pickford joined the star at the red carpet event.
Other notable silent-era premieres held at the Egyptian include Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” (1923), Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” (1925) and “Don Juan” (1926), starring John Barrymore and Mary Astor.
In 1996, the city sold the building to American Cinematheque as part of the city’s Hollywood Revitalization project. The nonprofit raised the money to renovate and restore the building and reopened it as a movie theater showcasing the organization’s public programming.
In 2016, with the support of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Turner Classic Movies and The Film Foundation, the projection booth at 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 rare, ultra-fragile and flammable film stock.
Part of the new plans include upgrading equipment to enhance the audience experience, as well as renovating and restoring the theater itself.
The Cinematheque will continue to independently program and operate a second historic theater, the Aero in Santa Monica.
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