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HomeMoviesNetflix restores Hollywood's iconic Egyptian Theatre : NPR

Netflix restores Hollywood’s iconic Egyptian Theatre : NPR

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Hollywood’s glamorous Egyptian Theatre reopened this week after a significant restoration. It was paid for, partly, by an uncommon participant.



SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre reopened this week after a significant restoration. Netflix labored with the nonprofit American Cinematheque to deliver the theater again to its authentic 1922 grandeur. As NPR’s Mandalit del Barco studies, it’s telling {that a} streaming firm now owns the traditional film palace.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: 100 and one years in the past, the Egyptian Theatre premiered the silent film “Robin Hood,” starring Douglas Fairbanks. Showman Sid Grauman had his film palace embellished with historic Egyptian hieroglyphics, carved columns, sphinxes and a large scarab above the stage. It was Grauman’s thought to make the film premiere an enormous occasion, says Michael Hernandez, who led a tour of the theater this week.

MICHAEL HERNANDEZ: Sid Grauman would gown his employees in Egyptian garb, they usually had been a part of the present. The Egyptian guards that will patrol the rooftop of the palace, calling out bulletins in film occasions – 10 minutes to the film; 5 minutes to the film; seize your seats; “Robin Hood” is about to start. After which his younger girls he would gown as harem ladies that will exit into the courtyard and greet the patrons that had been coming into the courtyard, and they’d additionally escort them to their seats.

DEL BARCO: Grauman apparently had film stars gown up in robes and tuxedos. The fanfare, the klieg lights, the crimson carpet – that was all Grauman’s thought, says the manager director of the American Cinematheque, Ken Scherer. He says Grauman was impressed by a prepare trip to LA.

KEN SCHERER: For the VIP part of the prepare, there was a crimson carpet. And he thought to himself, Jesus, that is an incredible thought.

DEL BARCO: The Egyptian Theatre opened simply weeks earlier than the invention of King Tut’s tomb. However already, Egyptian tradition was all the trend, says historic architect Peyton Corridor, who labored on the theater’s restoration.

PEYTON HALL: I do not assume Sid Grauman was prescient about what was happening within the tombs of Egypt, however he was very a lot on prime of common structure and promotion.

DEL BARCO: Additional down Hollywood Boulevard, Grauman went on to construct his Chinese language Theatre, the place stars’ handprints and footprints are immortalized in cement. Over time, the Egyptian Theatre modified homeowners. And by the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s, it was quite run-down. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake broken the theater, town of Los Angeles purchased the condemned property. A couple of years later, town bought it to the American Cinematheque for a greenback.

RICK NICITA: Properly, a nonprofit – we might have afforded $2 perhaps, however that was about it.

DEL BARCO: Rick Nicita, who chairs the American Cinematheque’s board of administrators, says the nonprofit spent $12 million to repair the theater, but it surely nonetheless wanted an entire retrofit.

NICITA: We had been doing the very best we completely might. And the theater was an exquisite, evocative place to go, but it surely wasn’t cutting-edge, let’s assume.

DEL BARCO: Enter Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who can be on the Cinematheque’s board.

TED SARANDOS: So I referred to as Rick someday, and I mentioned, why do not I’ve Netflix purchase the theater, after which we’ll do the preservation work. The screenings had been largely attended on the weekends, and we’d like it through the week. And we’ll deliver this factor again to its – you understand, its authentic glory. And it will be an incredible place for our premieres and occasions and the place for the Cinematheque to, say, movie at no cost all weekend.

DEL BARCO: Netflix spent 4 years and $70 million to fully restore the theater. Nicita says the streaming firm that started by displaying films and reveals at house is now the movie show’s savior.

NICITA: On its floor, it might appear it is an unlikely partnership, however I’ve to say they’ve been nice in understanding our mission. We mentioned, we is not going to promote this theater to you except we retain the flexibility to do what we do.

DEL BARCO: The American Cinematheque plans to proceed holding movie festivals, retrospectives and talks with filmmakers. They’re going to present 35- and 70-millimeter movies and even outdated movies made on flammable nitrate movie.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEL BARCO: Simply this month, it is displaying traditional movies like “Lawrence Of Arabia,” “2001: A House Odyssey”…

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY”)

KIER DULLEA: (As David Bowman) Open the pod bay doorways, HAL.

DEL BARCO: …”West Facet Story.”

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEL BARCO: Netflix will run its personal films, Wes Anderson’s “The Fantastic Story Of Henry Sugar” and Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro.”

(SOUNDBITE OF LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA’S PERFORMANCE OF GUSTAV MAHLER’S “SYMPHONY NO. 2 – ‘RESURRECTION'”)

DEL BARCO: In August, Netflix additionally purchased the Paris Theater, one of many final remaining single-screen cinemas in Manhattan. By now, the Paramount Consent Decree has been phased out. That was the antitrust laws handed within the Forties to stop film studios from shopping for up film theaters. However Sarandos says the Paris and the Egyptian are particular circumstances, and he says working film theaters just isn’t Netflix’s new enterprise mannequin.

SARANDOS: No, no, I might have a look at it as an funding in the neighborhood. So, you understand, we actually do imagine that we’re a web contributor to the movie trade, and now we’re a contributor to its historical past as effectively. I believe, in some ways, that is symbolic of some – one of many many ways in which streaming corporations are saving Hollywood.

DEL BARCO: Sarandos and Nicita say, up to now 101 years, a lot has modified within the movie trade – expertise, distribution, films and audiences themselves. On Thursday, the Egyptian reopened with a premiere screening of David Fincher’s new movie, “The Killer.” Nobody was dressed like an historic Egyptian. The brand-new outdated film palace has LED lights and a state-of-the-art projector and sound system, but it surely nonetheless transports audiences to a different world.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR Information, Hollywood.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site phrases of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for additional data.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content will not be in its remaining type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might range. The authoritative file of NPR’s programming is the audio file.

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