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Egyptian Theatre: an overview

6712 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028 | map |

More pages on the Egyptian: Hollywood Blvd. views 1922-1954 | Hollywood Blvd. 1955-present | forecourt | lobby - earlier views | lobby - recent views | auditorium - early views | auditorium - recent views | booth | backstage | Egyptian 2 & 3 | along Las Palmas Ave. | along McCadden Place

The news: The theatre reopened November 9, 2023 with Netflix and the American Cinematheque sharing programming. See the new website:   
Opened: October 18, 1922 as Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre with Douglas Fairbanks as "Robin Hood" on the screen and a huge prologue onstage. The score was by Egyptian musical director/composer Victor Schertzinger. In this postcard of the new theatre's forecourt from the California State Library collection note that the signage isn't saying "Egyptian" yet. Many of the early press reports and ads called it Grauman's Hollywood Theatre.

This was Sid Grauman's first Hollywood theatre and was made possible by developer C.E. Toberman. The structure reportedly cost $800,000. The Hollywood premiere was invented when the theatre opened and the Egyptian would remain a major first run house for five decades until its closure in 1992. Grauman's first L.A. Theatre had been the Million Dollar, opening downtown in 1918. In 1923 he opened the Metropolitan, a downtown theatre later renamed the Paramount. The Chinese, also a venture with Toberman, opened in 1927.

West Coast Theatres (to become Fox West Coast in 1929) had taken over the Egyptian after Grauman moved on to the Chinese and it was spun off to the United Artists Theatre Circuit in 1949 following various consent decree rulings against Fox in the late 1940s. American Cinematheque acquired the theatre after it had been sitting vacant for several years and renovated it for a 1998 reopening. It closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 lockdown and was sold to Netflix in 2020.

Phone: 323-466-3456

Architects: Meyer & Holler. The firm's Milwaukee Building Co. division was the contractor for the project. The original plan was for a Spanish style theatre but before construction began it was decided to change it to an Egyptian theme. The stylistic change proved to be extraordinarily prescient on Grauman's part when the public was whipped into an Egyptian frenzy by the discovery of King Tut's tomb by Howard Carter the month following the theatre's opening.

Hodgetts + Fung (Craig Hodgetts, Ming Fung) were the architects for the American Cinematheque 1998 renovations. On the team for the 2021-22 Netflix renovations are Ross Brennan of Studio 440 Architecture & Acoustics, Peyton Hall of Historic Resources Group and Tony Hambarchian of the Netflix Design & Construction Regional Team. Jeff Greene's Evergreene Architectural Arts will be overseeing the rehabilitation of decorative areas. Also in the mix is Charuni Patibanda, president of government affairs and lobby firm The McOsker Group. Whiting-Turner is the general contractor.
The project was announced in a May 28, 1920 story in the Hollywood Citizen-News that revealed that the Grauman clan had purchased the lot at 6718 Hollywood Blvd. from T.B. Marshall for construction of "...a picture palace, unique in interior and exterior appointments..." Thanks to L.A. historian Mary Mallory for locating the story for her 2022 Daily Mirror article "Egyptian Theatre: Where Grauman Put the 'Show' In Show Business, Turns 100." The Citizen-News noted that the new venture would operate as as a "national pre-release establishment..."  
A drawing of the west side of the building from the May 1, 1921 L.A. Times.

Mary Mallory, in a 2012 Daily Mirror article titled "Hollywood Heights - The Egyptian Theatre," quotes Grauman talking to L.A. Times film critic Edwin Schallert about his plans for something more elaborate than most theatres. As he envisioned it: 
"An Egyptian garden is to be one of the main attractions at the new Hollywood Theater. The interior decorations will be in keeping with this outward scheme, and particularly effective will be the colorful lighting plan."
By the time they were ready to begin construction, that "Egyptian garden" idea had changed into a big reflecting pool in the forecourt. This was the article in the May 1, 1921 issue of the Times that announced a May 7 date for laying the cornerstone:
They certainly didn't make that November 1921 opening date they envisioned. 

An early Meyer & Holler scheme for the entrance on Hollywood Blvd. It appeared along with the article in the Times on May 1, 1921. Although the article noted that the new theatre would be "modeled entirely after the Egyptian type of architecture," this looked more Romanesque. Obviously it didn't get built this way.

A later drawing of the theatre's entrance from Meyer and Holler. Thanks to Tommy Dangcil for sharing the rendering from his collection. Check out his Arcadia book "Hollywood 1900-1950 in Vintage Postcards."  That obelisk is the theatre's fresh air intake, located above the fan room.

Mary Mallory refers to the 1990 Bernadette M. Sigler and Kevin Stayton book, "The Sphinx and the Lotus: the Egyptian Movement in American Decorative Arts, 1865-1935" which heralds Grauman's as the first full architectural expression of the Egyptian decorative scheme in this country. The book notes that the theatre, inside and out was "Supposedly based on temple ruins at Thebes, the exterior boasted crouching sphinxes and Egyptian head pilasters." The proscenium was crowned with the "winged scarab Khepri."

Cezar Del Valle notes in a Theatre Talks blog post that a month before the opening, the Egyptian was already inspiring religious fervor. He excerpts an article from the September 9, 1922 issue of the newspaper Holly Leaves reporting on a talk at the Krotona Institute on "Temples and religions of Egypt during the reign of Queen Hatsheput" by Captain Stuart Corbett, a "noted Egyptologist":

"Grauman’s Hollywood Theatre may not last a century but its art was old when the pyramids were built. The careful attention given to detail may be traced in the hieroglyphics on the walls. The reproduction of the cartouche from the royal scarab, bearing the inscription, 'O Let me not my Heart bear Witness against me,' is wonderfully exact in detail.

"Another notable bit of detail is the lighting system. Scientists and historians agree that the Egyptian temples were illuminated by a light said to have been handed down to the high priests of Egypt by the priests of Lost Atlantis. This effect is beautifully brought out by the hidden illumination in the Grauman Hollywood Theater, enhancing the beauty of the architecture and giving it an artistic and almost religious atmosphere. In conclusion the speaker complimented Mr. Grauman on the realization of his ideals in giving to Southern California the most beautiful and artistic cinema temple in the world."

Many Egyptian themed theatres across the country would follow. Locally those included the Egyptian in Long Beach (1924) and the Uptown in Pasadena (1925). Lou Bard built many of his theatres in the area with Egyptian interiors including the Vista (1923) and the Pasadena theatre that's now the called the Academy (1925).

Meyer & Holler's main floor plan, a drawing that appeared with the article "A Theater Designed in the Egyptian Style" in the March 1923 issue of Architect and Engineer. It's on Internet Archive. A USC photo lists some of the subcontractors for the project. Raymond Kennedy, who would later work on the Chinese, was responsible for the decorative aspects of the building. 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.

This cartoon tour of the project appeared in the October 12, 1922 issue of the Los Angeles Express. Thanks to Mary Mallory for locating it for her 2022 Daily Mirror article "Egyptian Theatre: Where Grauman Put the 'Show' In Show Business, Turns 100." Arthur Wenzel, mentioned in one of the captions, was presumably Sid's P.R. man. He later operated a few theatres himself.

The new theatre in "HOLLYWYOOD" was profiled in the November 11, 1922 issue of Moving Picture World. Thanks to Jean Hunter for finding the article. She added it as a comment to a "Don Juan" premiere photo posted by Richard Adkins on the Hollywood Heritage Facebook page.
The lighting of the theatre was discussed in "Life o' the Show-House: Light," an article by Nellie Barnard Parker appearing in the February 19, 1927 issue of Exhibitors Herald. Thanks to Mike Hume for finding the article on Internet Archive.

Seating: On one version of the plans the capacity is listed as 1,742 seats, all on one level. That number is repeated in an account of the opening appearing in the October 20, 1922 issue of the paper Holly Leaves. Excluded are seats in the private "balconies" at booth level. It was reseated in late 40s for a capacity of 1,538. After the TODD-AO installation, the capacity was 1,318. Following the D-150 renovations in 1968 the capacity was 1,340 despite the addition of a main floor projection booth. The pit was covered and the screen was pushed farther back.

The 90s renovation by American Cinematheque resulted in a substantial downsizing to 616 seats plus the addition of a second 78 seat screening room in space excavated at the rear of the main floor. At that time the building was brought into ADA compliance. The Cinematheque named the main theatre the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre, the smaller facility the Steven Spielberg Theatre. With the Netflix renovations it got even smaller. The Spielberg was removed and the theatre's capacity is now 516.

Stage specs: Originally it was 25' deep and 67' wall to wall. The November 11, 1922 Moving Picture World article gave dimensions of 30' x 73,' a bit generous. The proscenium was 41' wide. Grid height was 54'. The screen size following the Cinematheque renovations was 27' x 53'. See the backstage page for more details.

A view of the west side of the theatre's stagehouse. The screen is now almost up against the back wall. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007

Pipe organ: It was a 3 manual 15 rank Wurlitzer style 260 with 7 tuned percussions and 14 traps. The main and solo chambers were on the roof just downstage of the proscenium wall and it spoke through the grillework in the ceiling in front of the proscenium. Some of the larger pipes were on a shelf about 25' up on the stage left wall. Neither the console nor the orchestra pit were on lifts. 

An ad reproduced in an issue of the Tom B'hend / Preston Kaufmann publication Greater Metro L.A. Newsreel that's in the Ronald W. Mahan Collection. Thanks to Ron for scanning the ad.

Frederick Burr Scholl at the console in 1922. Thanks to Jim Lewis for supplying the photo. He notes that Scholl was the theatre's first organist but in May 1926 moved over to the Carthay Circle. He's also in the opening night program at the Chinese in 1927. Kurt Wahlner includes a bio of Scholl on his Grauman's Chinese site. Page 394 of the October 1927 issue of American Organist has an article about "Frederic" plus a photo. It's on Google Books. Jim found a 1928 photo of Scholl taken when he played the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, Australia as well as a shot of a billboard for that engagement. Jim also located an October 21, 1960 L.A. Times obituary on "Fred."   

The opening: The new theatre was discussed in an article in the October 13, 1922 issue of the Hollywood newspaper Holly Leaves. Thanks to theatre historian Cezar Del Valle for a Theatre Talks post offering these excerpts: 

"Grauman's Hollywood will be the first photoplay theater in the West to maintain a policy of reserving every seat for every performance. For the convenience of Los Angeles patrons a downtown box office will be maintained at Barker Brothers', and seats will be on sale two weeks in advance. Two complete shows will be given daily, a matinee at 2:15 and an evening performance at 8:15. The scale of prices for the matinee will run from 50 cents to $1.00 and the evening prices from 75 cents to $1.50.
"Every production will be presented with an elaborate musical accompaniment by an orchestra which is now being organized and which it is hoped to make one of the representative musical organizations of the West. It is Grauman's intention to show the biggest feature attractions of all producers at the Hollywood Theater, the opening feature being Douglas Fairbanks in 'Robin Hood,' which has been seen as the really big photoplay triumph of 1922. 
"Each production will be preceded with a prologue in keeping with the atmosphere of the story in which players who starred in the picture will be seen in their identical roles. 'Robin Hood' is to have the most elaborate prologue accorded. The Nottingham castle set, which drew thousands to the Fairbanks-Pickford studio is to be duplicated on the Grauman stage, and the $150,000 costumes worn in the play will be used in the prologue, which Sid Grauman has designated as the 'Nottingham Castle Pageant.' More than 200 persons are to take part in the Robin Hood pageant, which will precede every showing of the picture."

The cover of the opening night program, a "Souvenir Album." Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for sharing the image from the copy in his collection. Visit his site about the Chinese: Cristopher Crouch featured his copy of the program in "Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre," a Cinelog blog post. His Egyptian Album has the full 52 page program in pdf format. 
A few of the pages: page 3 - From Sid: "Greeting" | page 4 - "New Policies" | page 9 - "Staff and Prices" | page 11 - "Program" | page 12 - "Masters in Charge of Music" | page 13 - "Robin Hood" credits |
The opening night was the first real Hollywood premiere. The staff included usherettes in elaborate Egyptian costumes and robed Bedouin sentinels patrolling the parapet above the entrance. Mary Mallory comments on the event: 

"Director Fred Niblo acted as master of ceremonies for the premiere, with Los Angeles Mayor Cryer, Rupert Hughes, Jesse L. Lasky, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s George Eastman, and builder Charles Toberman making speeches, along with actor Charlie Chaplin. Cecil B. DeMille presented Sid Grauman with a laurel wreath on behalf of the Hollywood film community. Floral arrangements honoring Grauman and his theatre decorated the forecourt.

"Both inside and out, the site highlighted Egyptania. The walls of the auditorium featured hieroglyphics, with the ceiling painted to resemble the night sky. The constellations would change as the lighting effects altered and shifted. The forecourt featured oriental shops down its promenade, with an Egyptian village replicating one by the Pyramids, attracting attention. Rug makers and other artisans intrigued filmgoers."
The October 20 issue of Holly Leaves had a full report on the opening. Thanks to Cezar Del Valle for including it on the Opening of the Egyptian Theatre post on his blog Theatre Talks:

"A new era in the world's motion picture theaters and in the cinema art dawned Wednesday evening, when the new temple of art, Grauman's Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, was dedicated with the world premiere of 'Robin Hood,' the masterpiece of Douglas Fairbanks. Every one of the 1742 seats were filled, and an even if the seating capacity were ten times greater, the house doubtless would have been filled, so great was the demand for tickets. There was a regular metropolitan 'opening night' with a jam of people and motor cars outside and extending in all directions, while the great court had rows of people on either side of the aisle kept open by khaki-clad soldiers. Hollywood Post American Legion Band was in the court and gave a band concert before the program. 
"The picture stars were wildly greeted and numerous flashlights taken of the kaleidoscopic human spectacle. Otto Olesen's great government searchlights played upon the heavens and added much to the spectacular effects. Before the picture, Arthur Wenzel, publicity director for the Grauman theaters announced that Fred Niblo would officiate as master of ceremonies. Mr. Niblo was a witty and facetious mood as he presented Mayor George Cryer of Los Angeles; George J. Eastman, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; Jesse Lasky, vice president of Famous Players-Lasky Company; Rupert Hughes, author and director, and Charlie Chaplin as surprise speakers. All were applauded to the echo with a double measure for 'Charlie.'

"Then Cecil de Mille was presented and after a brief happy speech, he called for Sid Grauman, builder of the Egyptian playhouse. Mr. Grauman was greeted by a storm of applause and was tendered the rising salute. He made a few appropriate remarks and expressed feelingly his appreciation for all that had been said. All speakers heaped encomiums on Douglas Fairbanks for his marvelous production. The prologue was beautifully presented and delighted the house. The music proved a wonderful setting and the composer-conductor Victor Schertzinger was given an ovation. Handsome souvenir programs in brochure forms were given to every first night person."

A "Robin Hood" ad that ran in Holly Leaves on November 3, 1922. The ad is featured in the post on Cezar Del Valle's Theatre Talks blog titled Opening of the Egyptian Theatre. The post also features a photo of the rear of the auditorium from the paper. 

"An Eyeful of Usherets [sic] Parked in an Oldsmobile. These lovely ones appear in person at Sid Grauman's new Hollywood Egyptian Theatre, where Douglas Fairbanks's 'Robin Hood' is being produced. If you can't find the way to your seat they'll help you." Thanks to Mary Mallory for the illustration, one that appeared with her 2012 Daily Mirror article "Hollywood Heights - The Egyptian Theatre." The article appears to have vanished from the Mirror site.

A "Robin Hood" ad from the November 17, 1922 issue of Holly Leaves. Thanks to Cezar Del Valle for the ad, reproduced in a Grauman's Egyptian post on his Theatre Talks blog. 

This article about the theatre's initial promotional push appeared in the December 2, 1922 issue of Exhibitors Herald. It's on Internet Archive.

Early History: Grauman's Egyptian was the first real movie palace in Hollywood. His close connections with studio heads allowed him to succeed as an independent exhibitor. It also didn't hurt that he did a great job of creating a romantic atmosphere with decor, costumed staff and elaborate prologues along with the feature picture. Among the dancers in the prologues who went on to bigger things was Myrna Loy.

The films were accompanied by Jan Sofer (succeeding Victor Schertzinger) conducting the "Hollywood Symphony Orchestra" with, in addition, numbers performed on the Mighty Wurlitzer. A nursery (adjacent to the ladies room) was provided for parents to leave their children. The opening program noted that "kiddies may be parked there with safety and convenience." On the staff, in addition to a nurse and storyteller in the nursery, were "Twenty-eight Egyptian Ladies in Waiting, Four Lobbymen, Three Porters, Footmen, etc." -- all costumed by Western Costume Co.

The program noted that "nothing but masterpieces of the cinema art" would be shown at the Egyptian where each "would have its world premiere months before being shown at any of the downtown theatres." At the beginning, the Egyptian was running only 2 shows a day (with reserved seats) at legit prices and getting long profitable runs from its pictures. In the first 3 years of operation, the Egyptian Theatre ran only 4 movies. "Robin Hood" ran nearly five months. 

The second film to play the theatre was "The Covered Wagon," opening April 10, 1923. Sid's prologue, "Pioneer Days," was "A Pageant of the Plains including Twenty-five Arapahoe Chiefs." The program from the collection of Hollywood Heritage was on display in October 2022 as part of a celebration of the theatre's 100th Birthday. 

A special invitation on the back of the "Covered Wagon" program.

The third film was a seven month run of Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" starting December 4, 1923. "Take P.E. Hollywood Cars direct to the main entrance." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the ad.

A flyer for "The Ten Commandments" that Ken located. 

A pricey $5.00 ticket for the July 10, 1924 premiere of "The Thief of Bagdad" starring Douglas Fairbanks. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating this via the site Worthpoint for a Facebook post on Ken's Movie Page

The back of the ticket. "Void Unless Countersigned By Sid Grauman."

The cover for the 1924 souvenir program for "The Thief of Bagdad" from the collection of the Academy of Motion Pictures Margaret Herrick Library. The full 30 page program is on the their website. Thanks to Suzanne M. Lambert for locating it.

An ad during the run of "The Thief of Bagdad."

The fifth film to play the theatre was "Romola," opening December 6, 1924. Each picture was accompanied by an elaborate Grauman prologue, usually as much of an attraction as the film itself. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the ad. 

John Ford's "The Iron Horse" was up next, opening February 21, 1925. This photo is of several Pacific Electric Red Cars taking 180 boys from the Pasadena YMCA to the opening of the film. It's from the Mt. Lowe Preservation Society collection on the Pacific Electric Railway website. See the forecourt page for photos of the locomotive that Sid had on display for the film. 

An ad for "The Iron Horse." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating it.  
Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" opened June 26, 1925. Thanks to Kurt Waklner for locating this image of the cover of the premiere's souvenir program when it was offered on eBay. 

The prologue to "The Gold Rush," titled "Charlie Chaplin's Dream," included a balloon dance and an ice skating ballet choreographed by Fanchon. Thanks, Kurt. Visit the site he curates about the Chinese:

The back page of the program for "The Gold Rush." Thanks to Comfortably Cool for locating this for a post on Cinema Treasures

 An ad for "The Gold Rush" that was located by Ken McIntyre.

The eighth film to play was "The Big Parade," opening November 5, 1925. This program is from the Silent Film Still Archive. Note that Grauman's "1918 Review" was advertised as having "100 - people on the stage - 100." He didn't exaggerate. Lots of extras were hired on a daily basis.

Two inside pages of the program for "The Big Parade."
Some of the costumes for "The Big Parade" prologue. Thanks to Comfortably Cool for posting this on Cinema Treasures with the comment "Produced by Sid Grauman, 'Pageant of the Allies' featured a bevy of beauties in spectacular costumes representing nations in the 'Great War' of 1914-18."

Page five of a program for "The Big Parade" shows the orchestra for that film gathered in the forecourt. Of interest at the top of the page is the credit for D. J. Grauman as the "founder" of the Egyptian. David was Sid's father. 

Thanks to Jack Tillmany for finding this at the AMPAS Margaret Herrick Library. It's from the Sherwood Mertz collection. Jack's father, a violinist, is in the back row, the third from the right. He worked for MGM at the time -- perhaps some of their personnel were used to augment the house orchestra. 

An ad for "The Big Parade" on the side of "America's First Trans-Continental Trackless Train." The photo is in the California State Library collection. It was evidently taken in Sierra Madre -- we have a guy's name embossed on the card from that town. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Godzilla, who included the photo in his Noirish post #10861.

"The Big Parade" was followed by the only double feature to play during Grauman's tenure. So, of course, he held a massive "duplex premier." The films opening May 14, 1926 were "The Black Pirate," in Technicolor, with Douglas Fairbanks and "Sparrows," with Mary Pickford. The two big stars did not make an appearance for the event but sent their apologies. Thanks to Scott Collette for locating this May 8 ad in the Times. 

This illustration by A.L. Ewing was part of the coverage for the new program that appeared in the May 9 issue of the Times. Thanks to Scott Collette for locating it. Visit his Facebook page: Forgotten Los Angeles. The Times noted: "Romance and pathos, glowing adventure and chilling melodrama will be balanced wih nice precision on the new bill at Grauman's Egyptian Theater, to be presented Friday night."

"Come early and enjoy the free attractions in the in the Egyptian Forecourt." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating this 1926 ad for the Grauman double feature for a post on the private Facebook group Photos of Los Angeles

A look at Sid Grauman (second from left) and his staff at the theatre in 1926. Check out the costumes for those usherettes. Thanks to the extraordinary Bruce Torrence Historic Hollywood Photographs collection for the photo. The collection has many more Egyptian Theatre photos to look at when you have the time.

Another shot of Sid and his staff in the forecourt. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection from the L.A. Chamber of Commerce. That's Sid third in from the left.

Warner Bros.' "Don Juan" with John Barrymore opened August 20, 1926. Also on the program was an overture and a Grauman prologue called "A Venetian Festival." In an L.A. Times article on August 19 it was reported that for the premiere "Complete preparations have been made for an elaborate electrical display with its crowning feature a titanic rainbow projected by searchlights from the Egyptian roof and for the illumination of Hollywood Boulevard in the vicinity of the theatre like midday." This program cover was once shared on Cinema Treasures but is now missing. Also see the credits page.

The Warner studios on Sunset advertising "Don Juan" at the Egyptian. Thanks to Cezar Del Valle for the photo from his collection. When the film had opened in New York on August 6, they were running various Vitaphone short subjects and a Vitaphone soundtrack for the feature. During the initial weeks of the run at the Egyptian the film was accompanied by the theatre's orchestra. There was no mention of Vitaphone in the ads or in the L.A. Times review appearing August 22. 

Vitaphone arrives: The Egyptian was the first Los Angeles theatre to be wired for sound. Well, other than several small downtown houses using the Gaumont Chronophone process around 1908. The Egyptian belatedly got the Western Electric Vitaphone equipment during the run of "Don Juan." The gear was shipped west on a special express car and was first heard by the public on October 27, 1926. An October 17 L.A. Times story noted that this would be the first engagement for Vitaphone west of Chicago. An October 21 Times story advised that "music lovers and film fans are eagerly awaiting the presentation here."

In an October 19 L.A. Times ad Sid Grauman stated: "I firmly believe that Vitaphone will be one of the greatest sensations the Los Angeles public has ever known." An October 20 ad declared Vitaphone "the most marvelous discovery of all time."

"The whole world was puzzled" about why Grauman was closing the prologue that was playing on the bill with "Don Juan." The last performances were on October 24 and the theatre went dark for two days to tweak up the new equipment. This October 21 Times ad explained that they would be reopening on October 27 with a big premiere of the Vitaphone version of the film along with a program of talking shorts including one of Will Hays introducing the new invention. These shorts were cranked out by the Warner Bros Vitaphone division in large numbers in the mid and late 20s and largely consisted of musical performances and recorded vaudeville routines. An October 25 ad modestly gave "Four big reasons why Sid Grauman closed his prologue...greatest in the world."

A great view of the dignitaries in front of the railroad car carrying the Vitaphone equipment west for "Don Juan." The photo is from the site George Groves, dedicated to the story of Oscar winning sound pioneer George R. Groves (1901-1976). It was once on the site's "Don Juan" page which has a nice history of the film but now seems to be missing this photo.

Another photo taken in front of the car that brought the gear west in 1926. Left to right are Jack L. Warner, Sid Grauman, Col. Nathan Levinson and Ray Schrock. Kneeling (and guarding the cargo with shotguns) are Bill Guthrie and a Captain Carillo. The photo is from Tom Wilson on Flickr. It's in his Vintage Photographs and Postcards collection of wonderful photos of early projection and sound equipment.

Trucks from the Warner studios loaded with the sound equipment for the Egyptian. Note the Western Electric horns on top of the load of the truck on the right. Thanks again to Tom Wilson for the photo from his Vintage Photographs and Postcards collection on Flickr.

A 1926 Vitaphone demonstration by Western Electric engineer E.B. Craft (left) using a turntable geared to a Simplex projector. The 16" 33 1/3 rpm records were designed to be good for twenty plays and then would be discarded. The photo is from the University of San Diego, appearing with Wikipedia's article on Vitaphone.

"Don Juan" got a second premiere on October 27 for the Vitaphone version of the film. This souvenir program from that event is in the collection of the University of Exeter Bill Douglas Cinema Museum. This time around there were prominent mentions of Bell Labs and Western Electric. Sid ran a big October 28 ad declaring the technology "Amazing..Astounding..Bewildering..Revolutionary..."

An October 29 ad touting the miracle of Vitaphone. The Vitaphone version of the film only ran three weeks. Thanks to Hollywood historian April Clemmer of Old Hollywood Walking Tour fame for researching the "Don Juan" engagement.

The Vitaphone turntables at the Egyptian would have been Western Electric's early free-standing models, coupled to a WE drive system. There's no data regarding how long the equipment stayed in the theatre. For more about Vitaphone and early Western Electric installations see the main page on the Warner Hollywood and the Warner booth page. There are also shots of Vitaphone equipment on the Carthay Circle projection page and the page about Inglewood's Granada Theatre. Also see our film and theatre tech page for additional data on early sound systems.

Next up was Syd Chaplin's "The Better Ole," opening November 17, 1926 with Vitaphone shorts and no prologue. Like "Don Juan," it was basically a silent feature with an added music and effects track. The shorts were probably more interesting from a technical standpoint. 
An ad in the November 15 issue of the L.A. Illustrated Daily News for the shorts that would be appearing with "The Better Ole." Thanks to Don Tamblyn for posting it on the Vitaphone Project Facebook page. Some patrons complained about the lack of a prologue. Actors who were out of work perhaps complained the loudest. The prologues were reinstated for Sid's final two presentations. L.A. didn't hear any more sound film until the opening of the Tower Theatre in October 1927.

"Old Ironsides," opened January 28, 1927. This ad appeared in the L.A. Times on April 30.


The cover for the "Old Ironsides" program. Thanks to Eric Lynxwiler for sharing this from his collection on Flickr. And thanks to Michelle Gerdes for spotting Eric's post and including the progam in the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Group Pool. 

The film was known for (in some theatres) its use of Magnascope, whereby at a climactic scene (such as a ship coming toward you) the masking opened and the picture got larger and larger. Then back to the regular format until the next "big" scene. Evidently the process wasn't used at the Egyptian. There's no mention of Magnascope in these program pages that Eric shared on Flickr

"Topsy and Eva" followed as Grauman's 13th and final presentation at the theatre. It opened June 16, 1927. The program is in the collection of Hollywood Heritage.

Opening of the Chinese: Sid's focus had moved up the street to the Chinese, which opened May 18, 1927. In July the Egyptian's management was taken over by West Coast Theatres, a firm soon to be called Fox West Coast. It went dark July 20 and on July 22 reopened under the new management with continuous performances and no more Grauman prologues. 

West Coast kept the theatre a major attraction with some stage shows using packaged Fanchon and Marco "Ideas" along with the films. Others featured the stage portion of the show built around a popular bandleader, such as Benny Rubin or Gene Morgan. A marquee was installed spanning the entrance and they brought the boxoffice out to the street. Eventually the "Grauman's" vertical on the west side of the entrance came down and was replaced by a new one on the east side saying "Egyptian."

The circuit had actually bought a half interest in the theatre back in 1922, shortly after the opening. Holly Leaves had the "Big Theater Merger" story in their November 24, 1922 issue. It was also noted in a November 25 listing in the Film Year Book that year. These are both on Google Books. Grauman's name stayed with the building for a number of years although he was no longer involved in the operation. It was still being called "Grauman's Egyptian" in the 1928 Fox ads. They had a nice tagline: "Where The Stars See The Pictures."

The Egyptian in the 30s and 40s: The theatre remained a major venue for Fox West Coast but the stage shows faded away as the depression deepened. There was a closure in 1932. "Egyptian to Reopen With Ceremonies," a Times article on October 7, noted that stars would be on hand on the 20th and they would be "welcoming back the colorful theater to the local Rialto." The reopening film was "Love Me Tonight" with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. The Times added: 

"New projection equipment and acoustic treatment have been installed." 

A November 6, 1932 item in the paper's "A Town Called Hollywood" column noted that a quiet visit to the barber was interrupted by a sound truck going by with this loud message: 

"Thirty thousand dollars has been spent to assure perfect sound at the Fox Egyptian Theater."

The forecourt continued to be an attraction with various animals in cages as well as occasional exhibits themed to the films, as Grauman had done. See the forecourt page for many vintage photos. Cashier Totty Ames talked about coming to work there in 1943: 

"The Egyptian was in excellent condition then. They had just taken the monkeys out when I got there." 

She's quoted on page 193 of Paul Zollo's 2002 Cooper Square Press book "Hollywood Remembered: An Oral History of its Golden Age." In 1944 the Egyptian again became a first run venue as a showcase for MGM product, although still operated by Fox West Coast Theatres. Long a favorite house for Hollywood premieres, the Egyptian has had an amazing number of great runs of important pictures.

The Consent Decree: In 1949 management of the Egyptian was taken over by United Artists Theatre Circuit as a result of consent decree rulings forcing Fox West Coast to cede control of a number of prime Los Angeles venues. The Egyptian was one of them. Until this time United Artists had not actually been operating theatres themselves. The corporation had existed, separate from the UA distribution company (but with some overlap in management and shareholders) since the 20s. Any theatres in which United Artists had had an interest were being managed for them by Fox West Coast.

This November 27, 1949 L.A. Times story notes the transfer from Fox West Coast of the Egyptian,  Loew's State, and the California in Pomona (renamed the United Artists) to the newly energized United Artists Theatre Circuit. Thanks to Mike Hume for finding the article.

The additional theatres DeCicco mentions in the article to get the circuit up to fifteen were twelve theatres that UA had built in the 1927-1932 period that had been managed for decades by Fox. The February 1, 1950 transfer of that bunch was discussed in "Twelve FWC Theatres Under UA Banner," a short article appearing in the February 4 issue of Boxoffice. The theatres included the United Artists downtown, the Four Star, and the United Artists houses in Inglewood, East Los Angeles, Pasadena and Long Beach. The article termed it the "last step in the complete severance of the joint interests of Fox West Coast and United Artists."

UATC gave the Egyptian quite a remodel before the "Battleground" premiere on  December 1, 1949. Work included modern art in the enlarged lobby, a hard-top canopy the length of the forecourt, a new curvy boxoffice and the towering, wavy new facade out at the street. 

The ad for "Battleground" that appeared in the Times on December 2, 1949. Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for locating it.  
A closer look at the bottom of the ad: "Redecorated! Refitted! Refurnished! Reseated!" 

Boxoffice discussed the renovation work work in their March 4, 1950 article: "Few Touches Necessary in Brightening The Famous Egyptian Theatre - Reconciling The Pharoahs To '50." What's left of the UATC group of theatres is now a part of Regal Entertainment Group.

TODD-AO at the Egyptian: The Egyptian was equipped for the 70mm TODD-AO process for a long roadshow run of "Oklahoma!" projected on a deeply curved screen perhaps 60' in width. It was the second TODD-AO installation in the country (the Rivoli in New York was house #1). The premiere of "Oklahoma" was November 17, 1955 with public performances starting November 18.

A Los Angeles Public Library photo of ladies getting the the neon on the Egyptian marquee ready for the roadshow presentation of "Oklahoma!" in TODD-AO.

An ad for "Oklahoma!" Thanks to Comfortably Cool for locating this for a post on Cinema Treasures.

The invitation to the premiere of "Oklahoma!" at the Egyptian Theatre "located in the Oklahoma Territory In the Heart of Hollywood." It's in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences collection and appears on their website in an article "Rounding Up the Cast of Oklahoma." Thanks to Michael Hudson-Medina for spotting this one.

Tickets for the show at the Egyptian. The illustration is from page seven of the TODD-AO section on Martin Hart's terrific site American Widescreen Museum. The first print of "Oklahoma!" at the Egyptian was without sound. It was synced to separate 35mm mag reproducers for the 6 channel stereo. Later "Oklahoma!" opened at the United Artists downtown while continuing at the Egyptian. It got a 51 week run at the Egyptian.

These are full size frames from a 65mm print of "Oklahoma!" from page four of the TODD-AO section on the American Widescreen Museum website. Also see the site's fine "Oklahoma!" page. Later prints were on 70mm stock with 6 channel sound on magnetic stripes. During the 1955 work for the TODD-AO installation the theatre suffered a substantial loss of decoration at the proscenium. The 3 manual 15 rank Wurlitzer organ was removed from the theatre.

"South Pacific," the third TODD-AO film, opened at the Egyptian May 22, 1958 for a 44 week run. The Carthay Circle Theatre got the second film, "Around The World in 80 Days." See the film and theatre technology resources page here on this site for information on other projection technology. For information on 70mm runs and theatres equipped for the process in the Los Angeles area, see the From Script To DVD site's section "70mm in Los Angeles."

The TODD-AO process was born out of Mike Todd's frustrations with the expense and inherent problems with Cinerama. Wide film was nothing new. There was a flurry of activity in the late 20s and early 30s and it might have become the new standard except the depression doomed further experiments. The Warner Hollywood ran several films in the 65mm Vitascope process and both the Chinese and the Carthay Circle had projectors installed to run the 70mm Fox Grandeur process.
TODD-AO was noteworthy because its film format became the 70mm industry standard and the projector designed for it won an Academy Award. The aspect ratio is 2.21 to 1. Some later 70mm processes such as Ultra Panavision used anamorphic lenses to get a wider aspect ratio. TODD-AO was shot on 65mm film stock with 70mm release prints to allow soundtrack room outside the sprocket holes. It used 5 perforations per frame and was originally envisioned to run at 30 fps for improved picture quality. Only the first two features were shot at 30 fps -- for "South Pacific" and later it was 24 fps. The screen was deeply curved, similar in size and curvature to a Cinerama installation. TODD-AO, however, used a single sheet rather than the narrow vertical strips favored by Cinerama.


The process borrowed the technique of mag striping on the film for stereo sound that was pioneered by Fox's Cinemascope. Where the 35mm Cinemascope had 4 tracks, TODD-AO had 6. There were two tracks outside and one inside the sprocket holes on each side. 5 channels were for behind the screen and one for surround speakers. This illustration of the dimensions of the TODD-AO frame is from page four of the TODD-AO section on the wonderful site American Widescreen Museum where you'll find a lively history of the process with many photos.

The system was originally to be called "Magna," which was the name of the company set up to develop the technology and produce the films. It ended up as TODD-AO because Todd, ever the showman, wanted his name on it. American Optical, who developed the optics, wanted recognition also.

Phillips of Holland was commissioned to design a new projector for the process that would also run 35mm with either optical sound tracks or 4 channel magnetic. The projector heads were made in Holland with the bases and magazines manufactured by American Optical in the United States. The projectors currently in the Egyptian booth (from a theatre in New Orleans) are a later version of the original TODD-AO machines.

A look at one of the early TODD-AO projectors from "The Story of the DP70 Projector" on the wonderful website, which is all about TODD-AO and later 70mm processes. See the site's DP70 Projector section for as much detail as you can absorb. And check out the separate TODD-AO section.

Note the two motors --- one for 24 fps, one for 30 fps. Later models just had one motor and a clutch. On the machine seen in this photo the top motor has a pulley so it could be synched via Selsyn motors to a separate sound reproducer. Large screens, big arc lamps and short projection throws resulted in lots of focus drift from the beginning of a reel to its end. Some of the early projectors were equipped with motor driven "focus drift compensators" that reset at the end of each reel.
More 70mm at the Egyptian: Other 70mm reserved seat runs included:

"Ben Hur" - MGM, MGM Camera 65 - premiered November 24, 1959 and ran 98 weeks.
"King of Kings" - MGM, Super Technirama 70 - premiered October 12, 1961.
"Mutiny on the Bounty" - MGM, Ultra Panavision 70 - premiered November 15, 1962.
"The Cardinal" - Columbia, blowup from 35mm scope - opened December 20, 1963.
"South Pacific" - Magna Pictures reissue, TODD-AO - opened April 1, 1964 - not reserved seats.
"My Fair Lady" - Warner Bros., Super Panavision 70 - opened October 28, 1964 - ran 68 weeks.
"Hawaii" - United Artists - blowup from 35mm Panavision - opened October 12, 1966 - 52 week run.
        -- 70mm not confirmed -- sound may have been a mono mix.
"Around The World in 80 Days" - Magna /UA reissue - opened March 15, 1968 - not reserved seats.

An ad for "My Fair Lady" in 1964. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for adding it as a comment to a post of a postcard view of the October 28 premiere on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. 
Dimension 150 at the Egyptian: A 1968 remodeling increased the screen width to 70 feet for a D-150 system installation. The 1955 TODD-AO remodel had left much (but not all) of the sides of the proscenium and the stage in place. In the new round of renovations the remains of the proscenium as well as the stage were removed and the orchestra pit was covered. The new screen went almost to the theatre's back wall. A new projection booth was installed on the main floor. The remodel was accomplished in six weeks. 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.

The D-150 screen installation deep onto where the stage had been. It's a photo from a January 29, 1969 Motion Picture Herald article. See the auditorium page for a view of the screen partially installed. Thanks to Roland Lataille for the find -- he has the article on the Egyptian Theatre page of  his site Also see the rest of the article: part 1 | part 2 |

Dimension 150 was a process developed by Dr. Richard Vetter and United Artists Theatre Circuit. It involved extreme wide angle camera lenses, a screen and masking system and projection lenses designed to give a sharp image on a deeply curved screen. It was installed in many UA roadshow houses (such as Cinema 150 in Seattle) as well as venues operated by other circuits. The Rosemary Theatre in Ocean Park was used as a test house for the process during the 1960s.

"The Bible" (1966) and "Patton" (1970) were the only features actually filmed in the Dimension 150 process. See the American Widescreen Museum's extensive coverage of the process and the Dimension 150 section on Roland Lataille's comprehensive In Cinerama website. Links to a few more resources can be found on the film and theatre technology resources page here on this site.
The first film after the D-150 remodel was "Funny Girl" (Columbia), a blow up from 35mm scope format. It opened October 9, 1968 for a 61 week reserved seat run. Thanks to Comfortably Cool for locating this opening day ad for a post on Cinema Treasures.

Adding Egyptian 2 and 3: In 1972 United Artists Theatre Circuit added 2 smaller theatres, the Egyptian 2 & 3, in a store building to the east of the theatre. The original theatre remained a single auditorium. That 2 and 3 building (with the center wall removed) is now a legit house called the Arena Theatre and is not part of the Egyptian's property.

Later Years at the Egyptian: The Egyptian enjoyed long runs of major films such as "Marooned" (Columbia, world premiere December 13, 1969 - a 23 week 70mm reserved seat run), "Alien" (Fox, 1979), "The Empire Strikes Back" (Fox, 1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (Fox, 1983). In the 70s and 80s United Artists Theatre Circuit had the Egyptian playing lots of Fox product -- especially after the 1977 "Star Wars" snafu at the Chinese. Frequently the Egyptian played day-and-date with the United Artists downtown.
Other 70mm bookings in later years included a sub-run engagement of "Patton" in January 1971, "The Sound of Music" in 1978, a reissue of "Oklahoma!" (with a new print) beginning April 29, 1983. 

In its last days prior to closure in 1992 United Artists was running the theatre as a $1.50 admission grind house. Through the efforts of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation and other organizations, the Egyptian was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument on September 23, 1993. The vacant theatre suffered some damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency ended up with the building.

The American Cinematheque renovations: The Cinematheque acquired the building for $1 from the Community Redevelopment Agency in 1996 and reopened the theatre in 1998 after a renovation designed by architects Hodgetts & Fung. What was envisioned as a $3 million project ended up costing $15 million by the time it was finished. The downsized main auditorium was then a smaller box enclosed by the shell of the original theatre. A smaller screening room was constructed in an area excavated at the back of the auditorium. The Cinematheque programming has been a mix of revivals, foreign films, indies and various festivals in all formats including 70mm. They also operate the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

The vertical sign installed as part of the 1998 renovations. It's a replica of one installed by Fox West Coast Theatres in the early 30s. The 1922 original, mounted on the other side of the opening, said "Grauman's." Photo: Bill Counter - 2007

In 2016 the Hollywood Foreign Press association gave the theatre a $350,000 grant, administered by the Film Foundation, for booth upgrades including a new digital projector and modifications so the theatre could show nitrate prints. A later $500,000 grant went toward roof and wall repairs, recovering the seating, some entrance terrazzo repair, and other projects. Deadline had an August 2016 story on the project.

The sale to Netflix: It was simmering for over a year but finally closed in May 2020. Earlier, Netflix had explored purchasing the Landmark chain but backed away from that. The American Cinematheque ends up with an endowment and will continue to program the theatre on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They will continue to manage the theatre, even when Netflix is holding their events and Netflix will be paying them a management fee. Ken Scherer acted as consultant to the Cinematheque on the sale and later became the organization's director.

Deadline broke the news of a possible sale in April 2019 with Mike Fleming, Jr.'s story "Netflix in Talks..." Thanks to theatre sleuth Joe Pinney for spotting the story. Bloomberg had a followup story. Thanks to Mike Hume for spotting that one. And, of course, Ryan Faughnder of the L.A. Times added "Netflix in talks..." a few hours later but had nothing additional to add. A June letter to Cinematheque members confirmed that a sale of the theatre was underway although Netflix was not mentioned by name nor was the sale price.
The Los Angeles Business Journal's July 19, 2019 article "Will LA Stall Netflix Plan?" raised a few questions about the Cinematheque's old agreements with the City and the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency and whether or not these would be obstacles to the sale of the building. On a similar theme see Hollywood Reporter's August 9 story "Will Netflix's Ownership of L.A.'s Egyptian Theatre Spark Backlash?"

Esorouric's Kim Cooper and Richard Shave, calling themselves Friends of the American Cinematheque, had a "Save the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre" petition up on along with an article titled "First Festival Cancellation Blames Netflix..." They were looking for more transparency. Chava Gourarie's "Behind the Netflix Bid for Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre," a September 3, 2019 article in the Commercial Observer, had quotes from all the usual suspects and comments that the Cinematheque's 1996 agreement with the city's CRA to operate the theatre (in return for some renovation funding) may have had a ten year expiration date.

"If it’s such a great thing, why does this all need to be shrouded in secrecy?" asked LAPL librarian Christina Rice in Ryan Faughnder's September 6, 2019 story for the L.A. Times: "What happens when Netflix buys Hollywood's iconic Egyptian Theatre? It's complicated." Faughnder noted: "Tony Arranaga, communications director for Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s office, said the city has no jurisdiction over the management of the Cinematheque, the disbursement of funds from the sale or what happens if Netflix decides it no longer wants to own the theater. The CRA was dissolved by the state of California in 2012... 'It is my understanding that the agreements between the [CRA’s designated successor agency] and American Cinematheque have expired,' Arranaga said. 'The councilmember will work with any owner, existing or new, of the Egyptian Theatre to ensure that they are good stewards of this historic resource.'" 
Cinematheque's closing: The theatre closed in March 2020 due to Coronavirus restrictions. After over a year of talks that nobody directly involved wanted to talk about, the sale to Netflix was confirmed in "Netflix Closes Deal to Buy Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre," Variety's May 29, 2020 story by Dave McNary. The multi-million dollar deal was also discussed in "Netflix to put a new spin on L.A.'s classic Egyptian Theatre," a May 29 L.A. Times story by Ryan Faughnder.
The AC issued a jigsaw-puzzle-like announcement in 6 parts on Instagram in May 2020 that declined to even acknowledge that the building was sold. They referred to it as a "collaboration." In "After the Nexflix Deal...," a November 16, 2020 Hollywood Reporter article by Scott Feinberg, he dropped a few hints about the Netflix plans and discussed things with Cinematheque director Ken Scherer and other AC staffers. The sale price was noted as $14.4 million in a December 2020 post on the site What Now Los Angeles. In addition to that amount, Netflix reportedly put $6.1 million into an excrow account for mndated seismic retrofitting and annother $2.5 million for other improvements.

The Netflix redesign: Head to our Netflix renderings page for 10 drawings of the redesign that were presented at several Cultural Heritage Committee meetings in 2021. Nearly all of what the American Cinematheque installed in their 1997-1998 renovation was removed. The balcony is gone and the 78 seat Spielberg Theatre has vanished. 
Much of the exterior stucco and hollow tile wall sections were removed for installation of a waterproofing membrane and to facilitate part of the seismic retrofit. Among other work on the multi-million dollar project: the lobby was redesigned, the seating area was widened out to the original configuration and a new proscenium was constructed. As with the Cinematheque's scheme, it is still a small auditorium: 516 seats instead of the 1,340 it had at the closing in 1992.

A floorplan from project architects Studio 440 Architecture & Acoustics. The curved row of columns in the middle of the beige lobby area is where the seating area ended in 1922. For many photos taken during the 2021-2023 construction project see the backstage, lobby and auditorium pages as well as the exterior shots on the Las Palmas and McCadden pages. 
Ross Brennan was the principal architect on the project. Peyton Hall of Historic Resources Group was the project's historic consultant. Others on the team were Structural Focus as the structural consultant, Syska was the MEP consulting engineer, Sightline Design Group was the lighting designer, Venekklasen Associates was a noise and vibration consultant, Silverlake Conservation was the architectural conservator, Visioneering Design Co. and David Carroll Associates were "system integrators." Whiting/Turner was the general contractor. Tony Hambarchian was the supervising architect for Netflix.
The theatre celebrated its 100th Birthday on October 18, 2022.  
Netflix has hired John Vanco to run their theatre operations. See "John Vanco Leaving IFC Center for Netflix to Run Paris, Egyptian and Bay Theatres," a March 2023 IndieWire article that was spotted by Garan Grey. Metropolitan Theatres is also now in the management mix. In August 2023 they were posting openings on the hiring site Indeed for a General Manager at $93-95K, a full time Operations Manager at around $30 an hour, as well as other positions. Thanks to Garan Grey for spotting these. 
Glenn Whipp had a pre-opening tour for his August 30 L.A. Times article "We take an exclusive tour of Hollywood’s restored Egyptian Theatre, opening this fall." Thanks to Ian T. McFarland for spotting the story, which includes photos by Dania Maxwell.

A photo by Yoshihiro Makino for Netflix that appeared with "Inside Netflix's Show-Stopping Restoration of Hollywood's Iconic Egyptian Theatre," Pat Saperstein's November 2023 article for Variety. Also see Pat's portfolio "Photos: Hollywood's Stunning Egyptian Theatre Renovation." One number that appears in some of the Netflix promotional materials is that they spent $70 million on the project. 

Reopening: The theatre's public opening was November 9, 2023 with screenings of David Fincher's "The Killer" and a short by Angus Wall titled "Temple of Film: 100 Years of the Egyptian Theatre." Earlier there were various press events, test screenings for invited audiences, and an invitational American Cinematheque "grand opening" screening of "Singin' in the Rain" on November 7. The reopening was followed by a twelve day 70mm festival from the Cinematheque. 
The news of the reopening date and bookings had appeared in "LA’s Iconic Egyptian Theatre Sets Reopening Date with 'The Killer,' 'Maestro,' and a 70mm Festival," an October 18 story by Christian Blauvelt on Indiewire that was spotted by Joel Pell. Variety, Deadline, LA Magazine, the L.A. Times and the Hollywood Reporter all had similar stories about the reopening announcement. 
The Guardian ran their story, "Hollywood's historic Egyptian...," on November 7. The story that day from Simon Thompson at Forbes was titled "Community and Commerce: The Big Picture Behind the Egyptian Theatre." The Financial Times weighed in with "Netflix is unlikely $70mn savior of L.A.'s Egyptian Theatre." Barron's had a November 8 story titled "Netflix Reopens Hollywood's 'Egyptian' Movie Palace." Thanks to Paul Rayton and April Wright for locating several of these articles. 

An August 2023 shot of YESCO installing the rebuilt vertical from "Restoring the Historic Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles," a two minute video from Netflix that's on YouTube. 

Preservation architect Peyton Hall discusses the renovation in "How Netflix saved iconic Grauman's Egyptian in Hollywood," a 3 minute November 2023 segment from the Today Show. Thanks to Paul Rayton for spotting this on YouTube.
Status: Netflix will normally be programming the house Mondays through Thursdays, the American Cinematheque booking it on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There will be some tradeoffs of days during awards season, for film festival bookings, etc. Jonathan Clough is the theatre's General Manager. | Cinematheque tickets | Netflix event tickets |  

The Egyptian Theatre in the Movies:

This anarchist is on the roof of the current Musso & Frank location lighting a bomb in the Buster Keaton film "Cops" (First National, March 1922). The brown mess we see across the street is the construction fence at the Egyptian with remnants of an early building behind it. Thanks to famed silent film detective John Bengtson for figuring out the location. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more details as well as a shot of the Hidalgo Theatre on Main St. seen near the end of the film.

We get a drive east on Hollywood Blvd. with a quick glimpse of the construction site of the Egyptian Theatre at 5:14 into "Accidents Will Happen" (Universal, August 1922). William Watson directed the 17 minute film starring Neely Edwards and Bert Roach. The building on the far right of the image is on the corner of McCadden Place and Hollywood Blvd., now the home of Pig 'N Whistle. The void beyond with the construction fence is Egyptian's location. Thanks to John Bengtson for spotting the shot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more about the film including other locations John has identified. 

We get a fine ride down Hollywood Blvd. in the Harry Langdon film "His Marriage Vow" (Mack Sennett, 1925). Note the Grauman's vertical on the left as we head west toward Hollywood and Highland. Thanks to John Bengtson for the screenshot. He's identified many of the film's locations on his terrific Silent Locations post "Harry Langdon - His Marriage Vow."
We get a murky view of the top of the "Grauman's" vertical near the lower right in this shot from c.1929 footage used in "It Happened in Hollywood" (Columbia, 1937). We're told that there's going to be a location shoot for a gangster picture at Hollywood and Vine. Fay Wray and Richard Dix star. She's a glamorous actress, he's a western star down on his luck since talkies came in. Harry Lachman directed. 
By 1932 the "Grauman's" sign would be replaced with a new one saying "Egyptian" on the other side of the entrance. The Warner is in the upper left, not yet with the radio towers. That "Oriental Cafe" vertical in the lower right is on Christie Hotel building, now part of the Scientology empire. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for an earlier shot looking toward the El Capitan during a premiere at the Chinese.  

We get a shot of a Bedouin patrolling the roof in "Hollywood Cavalcade" (20th Century Fox, 1939). Alice Faye plays film star Molly Adair and we're at the Egyptian for the premiere of her first talkie. Also starred are Don Ameche, Buster Keaton and Al Jolson. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several more shots plus a fine lobby card showing the theatre's entrance.

We get the vertical signs of the Egyptian and Hollywood theatres behind the opening credits for "Nocturne" (RKO, 1946). Later we pay a visit to the Pantages as George Raft checks out an alibi for murder suspect Lynn Bari. Edwin L. Marin directed. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for some shots.   

Eartha Kitt and Henry Scott go out on the town in "Anna Lucasta" (United Artists, 1958). In addition to the footage this shot is from we see some other Hollywood signs and take a stroll by a few storefronts. On the left there's the neon for "South Pacific" and signage saying "The Perfect Show in TODD-AO." Down the street it's the Hollywood Theatre. The film, about a young woman who had been kicked out of the family home and the complications of her return, also features Sammy Davis Jr., Frederick O'Neal, Rex Ingram, Isabel Cooley and John Proctor. Philip Yordan, who fronted for many blacklisted writers, is credited with the screenplay. Arnold Laven directed. The cinematography was by Lucien Ballard.   

The theatre is seen 2:38 into Dennis Ray Steckler's "Wild Guitar" (Fairway International, 1962). We also get views of the Chinese and the Pantages. The full film is available on YouTube. Arch Hall, Jr. and Nancy Czar star.

Jeanne Moreau and Donald Sutherland are in the middle of Hollywood Blvd. as we look toward the Egyptian in a shot taken during the filming of Paul Mazursky's "Alex in Wonderland" (MGM, 1970). The photo appears on page 39 in the Arcadia Publishing book "Location Filming in Los Angeles" by Karie Bible, Marc Wanamaker and Harry Medved. The page with this photo is included in the preview on Google Books. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for twenty shots from the film including views of the Los Angeles Theatre, the Vogue Theatre and the New-View/Ritz Theatre.

We get a brief look at the Egyptian's boxoffice as Richard Gere cruises down Hollywood Blvd. in "American Gigolo" (Paramount, 1980). Earlier in the film we get a view from above of Westwood and the Fox Westwood Village Theatre. There's also some action at the Bruin and the Music Box. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for those shots.

We get a nice view west toward the Pussycat and Egyptian theatres near the beginning of "Cheech and Chong's Next Movie" (Universal, 1980). The film was directed by Tommy Chong. Thanks to Jonathan Raines for spotting the theatres. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Ivar and El Capitan theatres in the film.  

John Candy drives toward the Egyptian in Mark Lester's "Armed and Dangerous" (Columbia, 1986). He's working as a security guard after a frame-up by corrupt cops got him kicked off the police force. The film also stars Eugene Levy and Meg Ryan. The cinematography was by Fred Schuler. Thanks to Sean Ault for spotting the theatre in the film. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Paramount, the Cave Theatre, the Westlake and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  

We get a quick look at the boxoffice in Garry Marshall's "Pretty Woman" (Touchstone, 1990). "Field of Dreams" was running in the big house. The film stars Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Jason Alexander, Laura San Giacomo, Hector Elizondo and Ralph Bellamy. The cinematography was by Charles Minsky. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Chinese, Vogue and Pantages theatres from the film.

We look across Hollywood Blvd. in the TV movie "Intimate Stranger" (South Gate Entertainment, 1991). It got a 1992 theatrical release in some countries. The Egyptian was running "The Krays." Allan Holzman directed. The cinematography was by Ilan Rosenberg. Thanks to Eric Schaefer for spotting the theatre and getting the screenshot. He comments: "The protagonist played by Deborah Harry lives in the Outpost Building. In this shot Paige French is standing in the lobby. There are some other shots of L.A. here and there, including a quick blur of the Los Feliz marquee."

In Barry Levinson's "Jimmy Hollywood" (Paramount, 1994) we end up at the abandoned Egyptian Theatre with Joe Pesci and Christian Slater. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more views in the Egyptian as well as a couple shots featuring the El Capitan and the Galaxy 6.

We visit the Egyptian in the Steven Peros film "Footprints" (Our Gal Pictures, 2009) where our amnesiac heroine, Sybil Temtchine, meets up with a former star played by Pippa Scott ("The Searchers," "Auntie Mame"). The story begins in the forecourt of the Chinese. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for more shots from the film.

Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan buy a ticket for a show at the Egyptian in Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris's "Ruby Sparks" (Fox Searchlight, 2012). Personal problems intervene and we don't get to come back for the film. We also visit the Billy Wilder Theatre. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for a couple shots there.

A view west from the initial trailer for Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" (IFC Films, 2013). The film, written by Bret Easton Ellis, is a thriller about some sad people on the fringes of the film business that stars Lindsay Lohan, James Deen, Nolan Funk and Amanda Brooks. The cinematography was by John Paul DeFazio. Thanks to former Egyptian head projectionist Paul Rayton for spotting the theatre and getting the screenshot. The film begins and ends with views of various abandoned movie theatres. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for shots of the X Theatre, Regent and Fox Inglewood.

We get some lovely c.1959 background footage as we drive down Hollywood Blvd. near the beginning of Warren Beatty's "Rules Don't Apply" (20th Century Fox, 2016) featuring Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins and Annette Bening. Here the Egyptian has the neon up for "Ben-Hur" with the Vogue Theatre over on the left. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for another Egyptian view as well as a look at the Chinese.

Shooting in front of the Egyptian for Quentin Tarantino's epic "Once Upon a Hollywood" (Sony, 2019). It's a shot from a featurette appearing on the DVD for the film. Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt star as an actor and his stuntman trying to find work in the changing Hollywood of 1969. See the Historic L.A.Theatres in Movies pages for several hundred shots related to the shoot on the block in front of the Vogue and the Pussycat as well as views of the Pantages, Vine, Grauman's Chinese, Cinerama Dome, Bruin and Fox Westwood Village theatres.

We get a quick shot of the Egyptian in Fred Durst's "The Fanatic" (Quiver Distribution, 2019). John Travolta plays a fan with behavioral issues who gets carried away when his favorite star won't give him an autograph. Also starring are Ana Golja as a friend who tries to help and Devon Sawa as the star who gets into big trouble by not being a good celebrity. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several shots of the Chinese, the El Capitan and the Dolby. 
Australian director Rob Murphy paid a visit to the Egyptian in "Splice Here: A Projected Odyssey" (Picture Start, 2022). His film tracks the decline of projection on film and interviews projectionists, archivists and historians who are helping keep the tradition alive. Local interviewees included Quentin Tarantino, Leonard Maltin, Douglas Trumbull, Cinerama restorer Dave Strohmaier, former Cinematheque programmer Dennis Bartok and projectionists Paul Rayton, Mike Schleiger and Ben Tucker. The cinematography was by Joanne Donahoe-Beckwith. The film also visits the Chinese, the Warner Hollywood and the Cinerama Dome.   

The Egyptian on series TV:

A view from the 1974 TV series "Kolchak: The Night Stalker." Thanks to Richard DuVal for spotting the theatre and getting the shot for a post on the Cinema Treasures Facebook page. He notes that it was a Pink Floyd concert film playing the big house with "Chinatown" + a second feature on screen 2 and a re-release bill of "Butch Cassidy" + "M.A.S.H." on screen 3. He adds that the series was set in Chicago.

More information:  See Charles Beardsley's "Hollywood's Master Showman - The Legendary Sid Grauman" (Cornwall Books, 1983) for a nice rundown of the productions at the Egyptian during Grauman's tenure. Our dates on the early shows are from his research.

See the page on Cinema Treasures for a nice history of the Egyptian by Howard B. Haas and Ken Roe plus miles and miles of additional comments. And now lots of photos as well. Go to the Cinema Tour page for more photos of the theatre. 

Information on 70mm roadshow runs at the Egyptian is on Michael Coate's terrific site EC & M has a 1998 article about the electrical portion of the Egyptian renovation. There are oodles of Egyptian photos on Flickr to browse. Sandi Hemmerlein ran a nice photo story on the occasion of the Egyptian's 90th anniversary on her blog Avoiding Regrets
Don't miss Mike Hume's fine page on the theatre appearing on his Historic Theatre Photography site. The Egyptian is one of a number of revival venues discussed in Mark Olsen's 2017 L.A. Times article "A film festival every night: The new ecology of the old-movie scene in L.A." Seeing Stars has a page on the Egyptian.

See Vanity Fair's 2008 article by Bruce Handy on Egyptomania as decor in movie theatres: "Watch Like an Egyptian." Also view the 2008 photographs of various Egyptian Theatres by Tim Street-Porter on the Vanity Fair site. Of course Wikipedia has an article on the Egyptian.
A 42" wide light fixture allegedly from the Egyptian was offered for sale on eBay in 2021 by Eric's Architectural Salvage, 1540 W. 6th St. in Los Angeles. Thanks to David Wentink for spotting the post. It turned out to not be from this theatre but most likely from one of the Egyptian themed interiors in the Lou Bard circuit. 

Pages about the Egyptian: back to top: Egyptian overview | Hollywood Blvd. views 1922-1954 | Hollywood Blvd. 1955-present | forecourt | lobby - earlier views | lobby - recent views | auditorium - earlier views | auditorium - recent views | booth | backstage | Egyptian 2 & 3 / Arena Stage | along Las Palmas Ave. | along McCadden Place | 2021 Netflix renderings |

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  1. This is an absolutely outstanding history. I learned so much. thank you for putting in the effort.

  2. Great stuff.

    Here's some really bad quality 1976 footage of the same neighborhood from "Dawn: Portrait of Teenage Runaway," which was Eve Plumb's (Jan "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" Brady's) attempt to change her image and the roles then being offered to her. (SPOILER ALERT: it didn't work, in spite of Eve acquitting herself quite well in this
    edgy movie-of-the-week, imo)

    From around 5:09 – 7:18, you see the main character "Dawn"––the cliched, scared, naive, underage runaway and newcomer to then-scuzzy Hollywood Blvd.––stumble into a low-end diner at the northeast corner of Cherokee and Hollywood Blvd. looking for work.
    Pause-Freeze-Frame at 5:29, and in the upper-right corner of the window/film frame, you can see the bottom letters "–TIAN" of the vertical Egyptian Theater's vertical marquee (which is just above what was then the Egyptian's box office window).

    The scene continues outside to the curb of the same diner at the northeast corner of Cherokee & Hollywood Boulevard. (NOTE: another refugee from squeaky-clean TV sitcoms makes an appearance. Look for the late Suzanne Crough (the first to pass away from that show, oddly enough), the Partridge family's skilled tambourine-ist Tracy, as another customer at the diner's counter. She even gets a couple lines.)

    Randall Kleiser directed this one, btw, just a year or two ahead of his cinema smash "GREASE," which was partially shot at nearby (2 blocks away) Hollywood High. (only the scenes at the track and bleachers were shot there, while the front of "Rydell High" was shot at the front of Venice High School, in another part of town far to the southwest from Hollywood & Cherokee.)