LOS ANGELES: The Egyptian Theatre, which hosted Hollywood’s first-ever red carpet premiere in its faux hieroglyph-adorned courtyard more than a century ago, reopens this week under the new ownership of Netflix.
Steeped in silver screen lore, the venerable Los Angeles movie palace may seem an unlikely investment for a streaming giant that has made a fortune convincing viewers to watch films on their TVs, laptops and even phones.
But for Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, the chance to save a crumbling Tinseltown institution — and showcase his company’s rapid ascent from tech disruptor to a key player at the very heart of the entertainment industry — was a no-brainer.
“Hollywood is all about symbols,” he said. “The Hollywood Sign and this theatre are probably the two most iconic symbols of Hollywood… this one, unfortunately, was falling down.” The theatre first opened its doors in October 1922, with the world premiere of Douglas Fairbanks’ “Robin Hood.” Previously, Los Angeles’ burgeoning entertainment industry had been focused on the downtown area, a few miles away. Organisers installed dazzling lights to lure a crowd, and rolled a red carpet across the theatre’s courtyard for VIP guests including Charlie Chaplin. That innovation, intended to emulate the etiquette of European royalty, would set the model for showbiz premieres for a century to come. Over the following decades, the Egyptian Theatre fell on harder times, and it suffered major damage in Los Angeles’ 1994 earthquake.
It was taken over by the nonprofit American Cinematheque, which repaired the building, but had difficulties funding its upkeep — until Netflix came along.
Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2023