The Egyptian Theatre pages: an overview | Hollywood Blvd. views 1922-1954 | Hollywood Blvd. views 1955-present | forecourt | lobby views 1922-2020 | recent lobby views | auditorium views 1922-2020 | recent auditorium views | booth | backstage | Egyptian 2 & 3 | along Las Palmas Ave. | along McCadden Place | 2021 Netflix renderings |
The photo appeared with "A Theater Designed in the Egyptian Style," an article by Frederick Jennings in the March 1923 issue of Architect and Engineer. It included a discussion of structural and mechanical systems design along with photos and a floorplan. It's on Internet Archive. There's also a version of the photo in the New York Public Library collection.
Meyer & Holler's ground floor plan for the Egyptian. It appeared in the March 1923 issue of Architect and Engineer. Thanks to Mike Hume for this version, which appeared in Volume 1 (1927) of "American Theatres of Today" by R.W. Seton and B.F. Betts. The two volume work was reissued in 2009 as a single volume by the Theatre Historical Society. It's available on Amazon.
A section view that appeared in "American Theatres of Today" Mike has the two plans as well as several photos from the book in pdf format on the page about the Egyptian on his Historic Theatre Photography site.
1,538 - after a re-seating in the late 40s
1,318 - following the 1955 TODD-AO renovations
1,340 - after the 1968 D-150 renovations
616 - after the 1998 American Cinematheque renovations -- plus a 78 seat theatre in space excavated at the rear of the auditorium.
540 - the expected capacity after the Netflix renovations
A rare proscenium postcard of the Egyptian from Brian Michael McCray's Hollywood Postcards collection. His 400+ cards used to be on Picasa until Google decided to "retire" that platform. Thanks, Brian! Presumably the scenery we're seeing is from one of the Grauman prologues.
The proscenium of the Egyptian in perhaps early 1923. It's a Mott Studios photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The California State Library and the AMPAS Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection also have versions. You can also see it with a University of Virgina "Crossroads" chapter on Cinematic Contributions -- a discussion of the Egyptian theme in movies and theatres.
A c.1923 Mott Studios photo of the rear of the auditorium from the California State Library collection.
A pre-opening view of the rear of the auditorium from the newspaper Holly Leaves appearing on October 27, 1922. It looks like the photo was taken when they were still working on the seats -- note the extension cords in the center aisle. Thanks to Cezar Del Valle for featuring the photo in a Theatre Talks post about the Opening of the Egyptian Theatre. It also includes an ad for "Robin Hood," the theatre's initial film. The caption:
A 1922 view from onstage. Note how far the seating goes back under the booth. All of that area was converted into lobby space during the American Cinematheque renovations of 1997-1998. Upstairs check out the light behind the curtains in the center private box on either side of the booth. The doors to the roof are open. The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
The photo from onstage also made an appearance in an ad for American Seating Company in the March 14, 1923 issue of Motion Picture News. Thanks to Jean Hunter for the find. She added the item as a comment to a "Don Juan" premiere photo posted by Richard Adkins on the Hollywood Heritage Facebook page. They credit the image on the left to J.O. Milligan. It was actually Joseph C.
A c.1954 photo by Harold Allen that appears on an SFO Museum page for a 2015 exhibition of Mr. Allen's photos of Egyptian Revival architecture. The photo is one of twelve on the page, but the only one of this theatre. It's from the Ryerson & Burnham Archives, Harold Allen Egyptomania Collection, Art Institute of Chicago.
The TODD-AO screen at the Egyptian Theatre installed in 1955 for "Oklahoma!" The photo is from the Robert C. Weisgerber collection. It's one of many great items on Martin Hart's American Widescreen Museum, appearing on the first page of the TODD-AO section. The Egyptian was the first theatre in Los Angeles to be equipped for the process. The American Widescreen Museum site is an amazing treasure trove of information on technical innovations in the movies.
A more serious renovation project occurred in 1968 that involved additional demolition of the proscenium and stage for the installation of a 75' deeply curved Dimension-150 screen.
A view of the demolition work being done in 1968 for the D-150 screen installation. The photo is courtesy of Robert Weisgerber and comes from a January 29, 1969 article in the Motion Picture Herald. It appears on Michael Coate and William Kallay's From Script To DVD Egyptian Theatre page, where you'll also find many other photos of the theatre.
The project was outlined in "A $250,000 Renovation in Six Weeks for UA's Egyptian Meets Film Deadline," a January 13, 1969 article in Boxoffice. See the full Boxoffice article. Several excerpts:
"Called one of the fastest and most comprehensive remodeling and refurbishing jobs on record, a $250,000 renovation of United Artists' 46-year-old Egyptian Theatre, in Hollywood, was completed in six weeks -- two days ahead of schedule. The project included installation of a D-150 all-purpose projection system, an Ampex solid state eight-channel sound system, widening and moving back the screen, lowering the projection room to seat level, widening the proscenium arch opening to 80 feet from 40 feet, completely redecorating the auditorium, adding new soundproofing, replacing carpeting and updating restrooms... Despite the area taken over by the new projection booth, the Egyptian actually was able to add 22 seats to its capacity. By utilizing the extra space provided by moving the screen back and by filling in the orchestra pit, the theatre increased its seating from 1,318 to 1,340...
"Entire Proscenium Removed - One of the major tasks confronting the construction engineers in the Egyptian's six-week 'face-lifting' was removal of about 150 tons of concrete -- representing the proscenium. As jackhammers tore loose boulder size chunks of concrete non-stop, other workmen rushed construction of a new concrete beam to support the new proscenium. An example of the kind of time-and-labor-saving concepts employed was a novel method of completing two jobs at the same time. While workmen were busily engaged atop a three-story scaffold temporarily supporting the roof, other crews were pouring a new concrete floor around the scaffold legs. After the pouring had been completed and the scaffold was ready to be moved, acetylene torches quickly cut off the legs just above the new floor and work continued without a moment's loss..."
The D-150 screen being installed. It was located much farther back onto what had been the stage than the TODD-AO screen of 1955 had been. Draperies and masking were by R.L. Grosh & Sons. The photo comes from the January 13, 1969 Boxoffice article "A $250,000 Renovation in Six Weeks.." Thanks to Moviesjs1944 for posting it on Cinema Treasures. The photo's caption:
A view of the completed 1968 screen installation from a January 29, 1969 Motion Picture Herald article appearing on Roland Lataille's Egyptian Theatre page of his site InCinerama.com. The first film to play on the new screen was "Funny Girl," in a 70mm reserved seat run. Also see the rest of the Motion Picture Herald article: part 1 | part 2 | The caption with the photo:
"Completely remodeled in a $250,000 six-week round-the-clock project, United Artists' 46 year old Egyptian Theatre features first Dimension 150 installation in Hollywood. The new curved screen is 75 feet wide, 30 feet further back than the original one. Forty-foot proscenium was widened to 80 feet. Projection room was lowered to seat level. Seating was increased from 1,318 to 1,340."
A 1990s post-closing view of the D-150 screen. It's minus the curtain and the top and side masking are set for their 1.85 format. It's a photo that appeared, uncredited, with the presentation Netflix
made about their renovation plans to the city's Cultural Heritage
Commission on January 7, 2021.
Another view across the rear of the house in the 1990s. It's another uncredited photo that appeared with the January 7, 2021 Netflix presentation.
The downstairs booth had been removed and the openings for the private boxes adjacent to the booth were open again in this rare c.1997 color view taken as the American Cinematheque renovations were beginning. The photo by Jennifer Minasian was on the now-vanished website volume5.com as part of a history of the renovation process. Sorry, but there isn't a larger version.
The renovated auditorium, sort of a theatre inserted within a theatre. The ornate beam with the decorative work is what's left of the original proscenium. Most of the black area beyond would have been onstage. Thanks to Mike Hume for his 2016 photo. For more treats visit his Historic Theatre Photography website, which includes a page on the Egyptian.
Hodgetts + Fung (Craig Hodgetts, Ming Fung) were the architects for the American Cinematheque renovation. Historic Resources Group were the preservation architects. The theatre was acquired by the Cinematheque from the City of Los Angeles for $1 in 1996. Reopening was in 1998.
On the main floor. The sidewall sound baffles opened during intermission to allow a view of the historic structure beyond. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
The rear of the house. The booth seen here is in its original location, although a bit higher than in 1922. It was downstairs from 1968 until the theatre closed in 1992. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
The view from what would originally have been onstage. Much of that flat ceiling above us is area that was once flyspace behind the proscenium. We're standing at a point that would have been halfway upstage. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF Facebook page - 2012
At the top of the house right aisle. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014
The wall and ceiling near the top of the house right aisle. They left those blob areas with a flat finish instead of replacing the ornament that was there. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
Under the front of the booth as we look across to house left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014
This strange construction was encountered part way down the side aisles. Above the walkway can be seen the contours of the original booth overhang. The steps got you to
the rear of the seating area as it was then configured. Over
toward the house left side were similar stairs plus an elevator to get to the
balcony and the booth. Off to the left behind the gray wall there were
originally a dozen more rows of seats at the rear of the auditorium, an area that was converted to lobby space.
The view back to the lobby from the auditorium entrance house right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014
Several participants at a Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation "all-about" tour in the house right sidewall singer's box. Access is up through the dressing rooms. Thanks to Don Solosan for his 2012 photo on the LAHTF Facebook page. Also see his auditorium view.
Another house right aisle view. Note the singer's box in the upper left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
Looking across to the front of the house right aisle with the sliding panels open in "intermission" mode. It's a view from the Egyptian Theatre page on the site Spherical Panoramas. You can pan around for all sorts of interesting views.
A look across to the house left wall. It's a view from the panorama by Carel Struyken on the site 360 Cities. Also see the site's panorama of the Egyptian forecourt by Bryan Groulx.
The house left singer's box. For access to the box on this side you went outside and up a flight of stairs. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014
The Egyptian Theatre pages: an overview | Hollywood Blvd. views 1922-1954 | Hollywood Blvd. views 1955-present | forecourt | lobby views 1922-2020 | recent lobby views | back to top - auditorium views 1922-2020 | recent auditorium views | booth | backstage | Egyptian 2 & 3 | along Las Palmas Ave. | along McCadden Place | 2021 Netflix renderings |
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