The Egyptian Theatre in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California is a classic and esteemed movie palace originally built in 1922 during the silent film era. A fixture in Hollywood’s Golden Age, the Egyptian was the site of the first Hollywood movie premiere, of Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks.
At the premiere, Fairbanks was joined by Cecil B. DeMille, Charlie Chaplin, Jesse L. Lasky, and Mary Pickford. 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.
November 9, 2023 saw the reopening of the historic facility, following a $70 million restoration funded by Netflix, in partnership with the non-profit American Cinematheque. To celebrate the occasion, the theater reopened with a screening of The Killer, followed by a Q&A with director David Fincher.
“Love for film is inseparable from L.A.’s history and identity,” said former Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2020, when the restoration was announced. “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.”
In 1996, the City of Los Angeles sold the building to the American Cinematheque as part of the City’s Hollywood Revitalization project. The Cinematheque then raised the extensive funds to renovate and restore the theater to its original grandeur and reopened it as a movie theater showcasing the longtime organization’s celebrated 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 this rare, ultra fragile and flammable film stock. Part of the new plans include upgrading equipment to enhance the audience experience, and renovating and restoring the theater.
“The Netflix and American Cinematheque partnership at the Egyptian Theater is a win-win for film, historic preservation, and the arts,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, Los Angeles City Council 13th District. “The collaboration ensures the cultural destination remains in the Heart of Hollywood for decades to come.”
The Egyptian Theatre has been a fixture of cinematic history since Hollywood’s Golden Age. A classic and esteemed movie palace originally built during the silent film era, the historic landmark is the home of the first Hollywood movie premiere and the birthplace of the red carpet.
“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.”
This long-awaited grand reopening came three years after Netflix and the American Cinematheque partnered to restore the Egyptian Theatre. This one-of-a-kind venue is now ready to return as a must-visit landmark for local film lovers and visitors from around the world.
Established in Los Angeles in 1984 as a nonprofit member-supported cultural organization, the American Cinematheque creates spaces where both the public and members of the film industry come together as a community with the common language of film. The Egyptian Theatre will remain the home of the American Cinematheque with the organization’s celebrated curation team continuing to autonomously program Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Netflix invested in the theater’s renovation, and will use the revitalized space for special events, screenings and premieres during the week.
“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 Chairman of the American Cinematheque, Rick Nicita. “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.”
The historic venue remains to this day an ultimate destination for moviegoers, where it has hosted groundbreaking film festivals and incredible cinematic experiences over the near-century it has been in Hollywood, the movie-making capital of the world.
All photos courtesy of Netflix.