There’s a been a lot of controversy in recent years between Netflix and the incumbent Hollywood studio system. The other studios don’t like the way that Netflix is collapsing their release windows and other traditional entertainment industry norms. Steven Spielberg has even proposed reforms that would challenge the streaming company’s eligibility for the Academy Awards. A Netflix film, Roma, won three Oscars in February, all of which were accepted by director Alfonso Cuaron.
Now, Netflix is reportedly planning a new incursion into Hollywood: The purchase of an old theater in the heart of Hollywood itself.
Per Deadline, Netflix is in talks to acquire the Egyptian Theatre from the American Cinematheque. The parties are in “early discussions,” the report said, with the purchase price expected in the tens of millions. The cash-strapped American Cinematheque, which uses the venue to screen classic films, would get a much-needed financial infusion from the deal.
The Egyptian-themed theater on Hollywood Boulevard dates back to the 1920s and is blocks away from the Chinese Theatre and El Capitan Theatre. The Dolby Theatre, which hosts the Academy Awards, is in that area as well.
The nonprofit American Cinematheque has owned the Egyptian Theatre since 1998 when it opened after an extensive renovation.
The acquisition would be Netflix’s first time owning an exhibition venue. It would give the company a place to host premieres for its higher-profile movies, the way that Disney always hosts movie premieres at the nearby El Capitan Theatre. Netflix would also host industry screenings and other events at the theater, according to Deadline.
The move, if it goes through, is not expected to lead to Netflix making a major move into movie exhibition. It’s also, according to Deadline, not expected to interfere with the company’s established relationships with iPic, Landmark, and other theater chains that show Netflix films. The largest theater chains in the U.S., including Regal and AMC, do not exhibit Netflix’s releases in protest of its release strategy.
The venue then known as Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre hosted the first-ever Hollywood movie premiere for the Douglas Fairbanks Robin Hood movie, in October of 1922. Sid Grauman, the theater’s founder, founded the Chinese Theatre, down the street in 1927. The latter theater is owned by an entity called Chinese Theatres LLC, although TV manufacturer TCL purchased the naming rights in 2013.
The deal, if it goes through, will likely upset some Hollywood traditionalists who resent the different disruptions brought about by Netflix.