Netflix is close to signing a deal to purchase the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood from the American Cinematheque, but that doesn’t mean the streamer will be using the movie palace to run theatrical releases of its films to qualify for Oscars.
At least not in the near future. Variety has learned that Netflix’s primary use of the theater will be for weekday and evening premieres, screenings, panels, and other special events for its films and TV series. Most recently, Netflix events have taken place at the ArcLight Hollywood, NeueHouse, and the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater.
It has also hosted several events at the Egyptian. Netflix plans to do some restoration of the 97-year-old theater and will replace some of its aging equipment, Variety has learned. The Cinematheque completed a $12.8 million restoration in 1998, after it purchased the site for $1 from the city of Los Angeles, as well as a more recent touch-up.
Netflix’s purchase of the Egyptian, while helping the Cinematheque, is a chance for Netflix to show its commitment to film preservation and restoration, one observer said. Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos is on the board of the American Cinematheque.
While the Netflix deal will help sustain the non-profit Cinematheque (as previously reported, the Cinematheque will be responsible for weekend programming), there’s no doubt that owning a theater could also ease the way for its films to get Oscar qualifying runs.
Netflix currently books its films through independent theaters including Landmark and iPic. “It’s easier to four wall” when you own the theater, pointed out one insider from another studio.
Netflix has been butting heads with Academy members, including Steven Spielberg, who believe that streamers need to implement longer exclusive theatrical release windows for Oscar consideration. The eligibility rules are expected to be a focus of the Academy’s Board of Governors meeting on April 23.
Netflix had previously reportedly been considering buying a small chain such as Landmark Theatres. It would not be purchasing the Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.
(Pictured: Daveed Diggs at Netflix’s “Velvet Buzzsaw” premiere at the Egyptian Theatre)