Netflix is in talks to buy the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. The Egyptian’s sale price is in the tens of millions.
Current owner the American Cinematheque — an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating moving pictures in all forms — would continue to be heavily involved if such a sale closes. The org would curate weekend programming, while the streamer would play its titles during the week, at least for the near future.
The deal accomplishes two tasks: It gives Netflix a prime venue during Oscar season and other times of the year without having to get into the theater booking business, and it helps guarantee a future for the landmark Egyptian, the Sid Grauman-built theater that opened in 1922 and was host to numerous Hollywood premieres.
A sale also would provide a financial boost for Cinematheque, where Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos sits on the board. And it would make the first time that Netflix got into the brick-and-mortar business.
During the fall and winter, Netflix could use the Egyptian for premieres and to showcase its award contenders. Insiders say the streamer would continue to play its original movies in other independent cinemas in Los Angeles, such as the Landmark (major circuits won’t book a Netflix film, since the company doesn’t honor the traditional theatrical window).
The pact does not involve the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, where Cinematheque has a 10-year lease.
The American Cinematheque bought the Egyptian in 1988. The theater is one of the few locations left that can play nitrate prints, and it also is equipped to play 70mm. In addition to screenings, the Cinematheque uses the site for festivals — including the TCM Classic Film Festival, which gets underway Thursday — retrospectives and filmmaker panels.
By supporting the org, and the theater, Netflix furthers its foray into the traditional movie business after becoming the first non-studio member of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Last year, there were rumors that Netflix had made informal inquiries about buying the Landmark, the largest independent circuit in the U.S. But such an acquisition would have involved operating 56 locations across the country.
Deadline first reported the Egyptian sale talks.