Netflix is in talks to buy the Egyptian Theatre.
The historic cinema was built by Sid Grauman in the 1920s. Hosting Hollywood’s first ever premiere in 1922 – Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks – the Egypt-themed venue is an iconic put of America’s movie history. Just over 20 years ago, it was renovated by American Cinematheque, the independent, nonprofit cultural organisation, which uses it alongside Santa Monica to present festivals and retrospectives.
Now, it may become home to a different kind of owner altogether, with Netflix in early talks to buy the Hollywood Boulevard establishment. The acquisition, should it come to pass, would mark Netflix’s first brick-and-mortar exhibition venue. It comes after a lengthy period of disruption and disagreement between the streaming giant and cinemas, with larger chains refusing to show Netflix movies that don’t abide by the traditional theatrical window. After Roma won three Oscars and four BAFTAs this year, pressure is now on both the British and American Academy to change their eligibility rules for awards, to require any nominee to be given a theatrical release.
This deal, which is reportedly in the eight-figure range, would give Netflix a chance to both screen its titles on the big screen and contribute to preserving cinema history, as it helps uphold a landmark theatre and provide more stable financial backing for American Cinematheque. Indeed, it is not being seen as a venture into a Netflix-owned cinema chain, with the streaming giant continuing to have relationships with independent chains, such as Landmark, that currently screen its releases. The deal would likely be a partnership of sorts, with Netflix programming screenings on weekday nights, along with occasional special event screenings, while American Cinematheque would operate on an autonomous basis for its own lectures, screenings and events.
Deadline reports that Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, who is a board member of American Cinematheque, recused himself from the board as voting on the deal took place.
Photo: American Cinematheque