The Egyptian Theatre, a famed Hollywood movie palace that has been the site of many a film premiere since its opening in 1922 and is one of Los Angeles’ most recognizable bits of movie-themed real estate, has entered into a deal with Netflix. Specifics of the deal—whether it is an outright purchase or a four-wall lease situation—were not specified in Netflix’s announcement, though an email sent by the Egyptian to their patrons noted that Netflix “will own the theatre.”
In operating the theater, the streaming service will work in collaboration with American Cinematheque, a nonprofit arts organization that purchased the Egyptian from the City of Los Angeles in 1996 as part of LA’s Hollywood Revitalization project. Funds were raised to renovate the then-closed theatre, which reopened its doors in 1998. The Egyptian, per Netflix’s official press release, “will remain the home of the American Cinematheque with the organization’s celebrated curation team continuing to autonomously program Friday, Saturday and Sunday.” Netflix will “invest in the theater’s renovation”—in what way has not yet been announced—and will use the theater to host events, screenings, and premieres during the week.
The Egyptian Theatre gives Netflix an L.A. home for screening their content at a time when the company has struggled to come to an agreement with major exhibition circuits, largely due to the streamer’s proposed timeframe for a theatrical exclusivity window. In the past, Netflix has carved out a space in the traditional exhibition landscape by, for example, signing a long-term lease on New York City’s single-screen Paris Theatre, which they used to promote their awards contender Marriage Story in 2019. Netflix has also worked with individual theaters and smaller chains to find theater space for films such as Roma, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, and The Irishman.
Says Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in response to the Netflix-Egyptian news, “Love for film is inseparable from L.A.’s history and identity. 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.”