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'It's part of film history': Netflix acquires Hollywood's historic Egyptian Theatre

The Los Angeles cinema will be used by the streaming giant for movie premieres, screenings and special events

Netflix has completed its purchase of Hollywood's historic Egyptian Theatre, helping to confirm the streaming giant's position in the movie industry. AFP 
Netflix has completed its purchase of Hollywood's historic Egyptian Theatre, helping to confirm the streaming giant's position in the movie industry. AFP 

Netflix completed its purchase of Hollywood's historic Egyptian Theatre on Friday, helping to confirm the streaming giant's newfound central position in the movie industry.

The Los Angeles cinema, built in 1922, claims to have hosted Hollywood's first-ever movie premiere, Robin Hood, and will be used by Netflix for premieres as well as screenings and special events.

"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 Netflix film head Scott Stuber in a statement confirming the deal.

Netflix, which did not reveal the size of its investment, will run the venue jointly with American Cinematheque, a non-profit which bought the dilapidated theatre from city officials in 1996 and renovated it two years later.

 The theatre hosted the premiere of 'Robin Hood' in 1922. AFP
The theatre hosted the premiere of 'Robin Hood' in 1922. AFP

The Egyptian Theatre's landmark 1922 premiere of Robin Hood was attended by Charlie Chaplin, movie mogul Cecil B DeMille and the film's star Douglas Fairbanks.

The venue on Hollywood Boulevard later hosted premieres of other key silent movies from Hollywood's famed Golden Age, such as The Gold Rush and The Ten Commandments.

Netflix has spent billions in recent years to lure the industry's top filmmaking talent, upstaging traditional Tinseltown studios with prestigious titles including Roma and The Irishman.

Last year, the streaming giant announced it would use New York's historic Paris theatre, which had been shuttered months earlier, for special events and screenings.

The investments have been widely seen as a shot across the bows in Netflix's battle with major cinema chains and older Hollywood studios.

Traditionally, the waiting period before movies appear online agreed upon by studios and major theatre chains is 90 days, but Netflix and other streaming giants have been running their movies in select cinemas for briefer windows.

The Oscars and other major award shows require films in contention to run in designated cinemas for a certain period of time, although many have temporarily relaxed their rules this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hollywood trade publication IndieWire reported this week that Netflix will skip traditional major movie festivals this year such as Venice, Toronto and New York – should they take place – preferring to premiere its titles at independent venues.

"Love for film is inseparable from LA's history and identity," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "We are working toward the day when audiences can return to theatres – and this extraordinary partnership will preserve an important piece of our cultural heritage that can be shared for years to come."

Updated: May 30, 2020 11:25 AM

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