The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has awarded the American Cinematheque, a $500,000 grant to fund maintenance and essential technical upgrades to the historic 1922 Egyptian Theatre, a designated historic cultural monument situated on iconic Hollywood Boulevard. News of this grant comes less than a week after the HFPA announced at their annual Grants Banquet a completely separate donation of $350,000 to help make the theatre capable of screening 35mm nitrate film prints, a grant that was made through The Film Foundation which is coordinating the project.
The Egyptian Theatre has the distinction of being the site of the first-ever Hollywood movie premiere under the supervision of master showman Sid Grauman, who premiered some of the greatest hits of the silent era at the Egyptian, and is the only historic theater on Hollywood Boulevard that has continually operated as a cinema to this day. The American Cinematheque purchased the Egyptian Theatre from the city of Los Angeles for $1 in the mid-1990s, with the stipulation that Hollywood’s most historically significant movie palace, undergo a complete restoration, renovation and adaptive re-use remodel.
“The American Cinematheque is extremely appreciative of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s support of this historic landmark,” said American Cinematheque Chairman Rick Nicita. “It has become a beloved icon of modern movie-goers in the nearly two decades our organization has owned and operated the theater. We are dedicated to preserving this important landmark of Hollywood history where we continue to show movies on the big screen as they were meant to be seen.”
The Egyptian Theatre also serves as the host of the HFPA’s annual Golden Globe Foreign Language Film Symposium.
“The Egyptian Theatre is a very special place to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – each year it welcomes our Golden Globe Foreign Language Film Symposium and celebrated foreign filmmakers,” said HFPA President Lorenzo Soria. “We want to make sure The Egyptian Theatre brings charm, culture and education to Hollywood for years to come, and continues to be a home away from home for our foreign filmmakers.”
The scope of the HFPA-funded renovation includes repair from water damage to the main roof and the portico ceiling and walls on the building’s exterior. Inside, water damage to various areas of the ceiling and side walls will be structurally repaired and then restored by historic restoration specialists. The theater’s 1998 carpet will be replaced by a custom-designed carpet that brings elements from the showpiece of the theater - the ornate ceiling adorned with a scarab and other Egyptian icons – down to the floor. Other interior renovations include replacement of the concession stand and lighting, and recovering of the theater’s seats in high end Italian Alcantara material.
Exterior renovations will include the repair of the twelve palm tree planters and the installation of a new lighting system to uplight the trees as well as the columns that flank the entrance. The historic murals of Egyptian deities on the walls will be repaired and repainted. Terrazzo will replace the existing outdoor carpeting to enhance the grand entrance to the building.
On the technical front, the ten-year-old digital projector will be upgraded to a 4K projector, and the sound system and projection booth electrical infrastructure will be revised.
Sid Grauman (1879 – 1950) was a master showman in the early days of film exhibition and a founder of the Egyptian Theatre (owned and operated by the American Cinematheque since 1998), where the first Hollywood “premiere” (Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks) was held in 1922.
He went on to be part of the world-famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre as well. He was a pioneer in the theatrical exhibition of movies and a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, from which he received an honorary Academy Award for his work. His legacy is carried on today through the big screen movie viewing experience provided by the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre.
A Brief History of the American Cinematheque:
Established in 1981, the American Cinematheque is a non-profit viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all of its forms. At the Egyptian Theatre, the Cinematheque presents daily film and video programming which ranges from the classics of American and international cinema to new independent films and digital work. Exhibition of rare works, special and rare prints, etc., combined with fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work, are a Cinematheque tradition that keep audiences coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences. The American Cinematheque renovated and reopened (on December 4, 1998) the historic 1922 Hollywood Egyptian Theatre This includes a state-of-the-art 616-seat theatre housed within Sid Grauman’s first grand movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard. The exotic courtyard is fully restored to its 1922 grandeur. The Egyptian was the home of the very first Hollywood movie premiere in 1922.
In early 2005 the American Cinematheque expanded its programming to the Westside with the January 5th opening of the 1940 Aero Theatre on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.
Both theatres play host to an array of industry guests who share their filmmaking experiences with our audiences.
About the Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Founded in the 1940s during World War II, the HFPA was originally comprised of a handful of L.A.-based overseas journalists who sought to bridge the international community with Hollywood, and to provide distraction from the hardships of war through film. Seventy years later, members of the HFPA represent 56 countries with a combined readership of 250 million in some of the world’s most respected publications. Each year, the organization holds the third most watched awards show on television, the Golden Globe® Awards, which has enabled the organization to donate more than $25 million to entertainment-related charities and scholarship programs. For more information, please visit www.GoldenGlobes.com and follow us on Twitter (@GoldenGlobes) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/GoldenGlobes).
The Egyptian Theatre is open for business during the renovation. To see what's onscreen today click here.