Report: Netflix to Buy L.A.’s Egyptian Theatre

Report: Netflix to Buy L.A.’s Egyptian Theatre

In an apparent response to streaming-service haters, Netflix is reportedly in talks to buy an L.A.-based movie theater.

The company is eyeing American Cinematheque’s esteemed Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

As noted by Deadline, this would be the first brick-and-mortar cinema acquisition for Netflix.

And likely its last.

The deal, rumored to be in the “many tens of millions of dollars,” could put Netflix in good standing with the cinephile community. Or at least help qualify original films for the Academy Awards.

Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg recently pooh poohed streaming movies as Oscar contenders—days after Netflix walked away from the annual event with three golden statues for Alfonso Cuarón’s stunning Roma.

Spielberg, part of the Academy’s directors branch, allegedly wants new eligibility rules disqualifying films that debut on streaming services or have short theatrical runs.

Banning streaming platforms from the Oscars, however, could raise antitrust concerns and violate competition law, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which warned the Academy against limiting the eligibility of Netflix and its ilk.

A Netflix-owned cinema would mean longer (if not unlimited) viewing seasons for original content—including Roma, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Bird Box, Unicorn Store, Velvet Buzzsaw, and maybe even series Our Planet, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, or Queer Eye.

It also means preserving one of Los Angeles’s landmark movie theaters.

Built by Sid Grauman (of nearby El Capitan and Chinese Theatre fame) for $800,000, the Egyptian was the venue for the first-ever Hollywood premiere—Douglas Fairbanks’ Robin Hood—in October 1922.

As Hollywood declined in the 1980s and early ’90s, the Egyptian closed and fell into disrepair. It was sold in 1996 by the city of Los Angeles to the American Cinematheque for a measly $1, with the provision the landmark building would be restored and reopened as a movie theater.

After a $12.8 million renovation, the cinema—featuring two theaters (one, ironically, seemingly named after Steven Spielberg)—resumed operations in late 1998.

Nearly 20 years later, Netflix hopes to take over the building, in what sources told Deadline would serve as “something of a partnership,” with Netflix offering screenings on weekday nights (alongside the occasional special event), while Cinematheque runs screenings, lectures, and festivals on weekends.

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, a board member of American Cinematheque, reportedly recused himself from voting; negotiations will not be finalized until issues involving real estate and city permits are settled, Deadline said.

Netflix did not immediately respond to Geek’s request for comment.

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Published at Wed, 10 Apr 2019 11:29:22 +0000

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