April 16th, 2019

carole lombard 02
  • vp19

Of Netflix and the Egyptian




I've never seen a photo of Carole Lombard at the fabled Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, but we do have this image of one of her films playing there, "True Confession" in late 1937. Perhaps she was at its premiere. But since the Sid Grauman-built venue opened in 1922, it's highly likely Lombard was no stranger to the place.

Here's how the theater looked in 1925, the night "The Big Parade" premiered...



...and how it looked in 2007, restored to much of its initial appearance:



The Egyptian's been in the news lately because its owner, American Cinematheque, plans to sell the theater to streaming giant Netflix (https://www.thewrap.com/members/2019/04/09/netflix-in-talks-to-buy-graumans-egyptian-theatre-from-american-cinematheque/), a company that elicits all sorts of responses from movie buffs for a range of reasons. This move is no exception.

Some fear Netflix -- which is making inroads into the theatrical market -- will do to the Egyptian what Disney has done to the historic El Capitan a few blocks west on the Boulevard...make it a corporate property:



Those in the know about the deal say that's not the case, adding Netflix (which will face streaming competition from Disney this fall) and the Cinematheque intend to act as a partnership. Netflix would use the Egyptian as an event space for premieres and other special happenings, with the repertory firm running films the rest of the time.

What's spurring Netflix into the brick-and-mortar business? This has a lot to do with it:



A film called "The Irishman," a crime drama from Martin Scorsese starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci (yeah, that's good Irish stock, all right). Advance word is encouraging, and Netflix wants to avoid the same trouble with exhibitors that stunted the theatrical release of the well-regarded "Roma."

This won't be easy; much of Hollywood's old guard, from Steven Spielberg to many theater chains, want nothing to do with the colossal upstart. It will be intriguing to see how this all plays out.

For more on the controversy, visit https://variety.com/2019/film/news/netflix-egyptian-theatre-purchase-strategy-1203190249/#article-comments.
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