When every movie theater in Los Angeles went dark in 2020, we weren’t sure which ones would be able to survive the lengthy shutdown (R.I.P. ArcLight). But around that same time, the temporary shuttering of one of Hollywood’s most historic theaters came with a silver lining: Netflix announced that it had bought the Egyptian Theatre and was embarking on a multi-year renovation.
Now, on the 101st anniversary of the venue’s opening, Netflix and the American Cinematheque are readying the Egyptian Theatre to reopen on November 9 after a three-year, $70 million restoration project.
Though Netflix now owns the building, it’ll share programming duties with the American Cinematheque. L.A.’s beloved not-for-profit film organization revived the venue in the late ‘90s and has kept it stocked with double bills and top-talent conversations ever since—including going forward on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. (Netflix will use the space for premieres and special events on weekdays.)
So looking ahead, you’ll find both organizations’ fingerprints on the lineup: The theater will debut with a screening of David Fincher’s The Killer on November 9, including a Q&A from the director himself, as well as additional Netflix-distributed films like Bradley Cooper’s Maestro (Nov 22–Dec 7), Wes Anderson’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (Dec 5) and a 70mm presentation of Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child Of Fire (Dec 15–21).
The American Cinematheque, meanwhile, will hold its annual celebration of large-format film prints, Ultra Cinematheque 70 Fest (Nov 10–21), which features picks likes Boogie Nights, Nope, West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia and 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition, Netflix will release a documentary short about the theater, Temple of Film: 100 Years of the Egyptian Theatre, on November 9.
The backlot-quality facsimile of an Egyptian temple has long been one of the few bright spots on Hollywood Boulevard. Built by the same architect as the Chinese Theatre down the street, the 1922 venue’s catwalk-like courtyard was the site of the first ever Hollywood premiere, a screening of Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks. Though some structures in Hollywood predate it, Grauman’s Egyptian (as it was originally known) is the oldest theater in the area that still screens films.
Its distinctive temple-like architecture, with its hieroglyphs-filled courtyard and a ceiling adorned with a scarab beetle sunburst organ, landed it on our list of the most beautiful cinemas in the world. Some of the auditorium’s alterations have been a mixed bag over the years, but Netflix’s latest renovation has corrected some pretty major ones: Ornate, hulking plaster pillars that flanked the stage ages ago later gave way to more contemporary cladding, but Netflix has brought back the desert block walls and a streamlined homage to the pillars.
We had a chance to visit the Egyptian ahead of opening, and the results are truly beautiful. The enhancements here have largely sought to bring the venue back to something closer to its original state; in the courtyard, the painted hieroglyphs have been touched up, and the rows of palm trees have been removed to make the forecourt more amenable to premieres. Both inside and out, the ancient Egyptian-themed details have been restored to tip-top shape—the sunburst and scarab ceiling both look particularly fantastic. The lobby, too, has been spruced up; the aging, generic concession stand has given way to a much more open and streamlined look that doesn’t overpower the ornate themed details on the ceiling.
The seating, too, has received a considerable makeover, with plush, comfy seats that’ve been rearranged into a slightly more curved layout. That’s improved sightlines, as has the removal of the balcony (a late era addition to the theater); together with the removal of the smaller, second theater, it’s actually dropped the seating count to a still-sizeable 516. Behind the scenes, the projection booth supports digital as well as film, including 35mm, 70mm and nitrate, a flammable format used up until the 1950s that’s only available in four other theaters in the country (including at the Academy Museum).
Check out some more photos of the renovated Egyptian Theatre below.
This story was originally published on October 18, 2023. We’ve since updated it with additional screening info and a hands-on preview of the theater.