By Indiewire | Indiewire April 10, 1998 at 2:0AM
Re-Open Later This Year With Increased Screening Opportunities for Indies
by Eugene Hernandez
Hollywoods landmark Egyptian Theater is on track to open later this year
following a massive renovation. The site will become the permanent home
for the American Cinematheque. One week after the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences announced the creation of a new Oscars facility
on Hollywood Blvd., the American Cinematheque held a press conference in
the famed Egyptian courtyard yesterday to explain their plans and give
attendees a sneak preview of the work in progress construction site.
An array of filmmakers, Hollywood industry people, civic leaders, and
Cinematheque brass gathered to unveil a $12.9 million fundraising campaign
aimed at closing the financial gap created by the project. Organizers also
revealed that the new complex will become a significant venue for indiefilm
Opened in 1922, the Egyptian Theater was built by Sid Grauman five years
before the legendary Chinese Theater down the street. It was the first
major movie theater in Hollywood. Yesterday, as painters put final
touches on courtyard walls, construction workers inside continued the
laborious rebuilding process. Attendees at yesterdays event were given
hard hats and allowed to walk through portions of the work site.
Scaffolding dominates the interior, which is still in skeletal form as wall
boards and floor boards are installed. The only apparent vestiges of the
legendary theater are the ceiling paintings which will be restored to their
A part of the ongoing effort to re-vitalize the Hollywood area, the Egyptian
renovation will produce a permanent home for the American Cinematheque,
a non-profit, film organization that screens rare movies, screenings series,
and independent films for both members and the general public. When
Cinematheque programs move to the Egyptian from Raleigh Studios the
groups Alternative Screen series which showcases new indie works will
be expanded, series producer Margot Gerber told indieWIRE yesterday.
Regular programs can be held in the primary 650-seat theater, while the
venues smaller 75-seat house may be rented for screenings. With a
permanent venue, the Cinematheque may also offer the screen for
week-long runs of independent and foreign films, Gerber said.
Bound to become a popular tourist stop in Hollywood, the site will also
include a restaurant, as well as book and magazine kiosks amid the
restored entrance portico, ticket booths and four massive columns.
For yesterdays event, the Cinematheque welcomed a large group of
filmmakers who support the endeavor and their work. Alfonso Arau,
Paul Bartel, Curtis Hanson, Tim Hunter, Monte Hellman, and Jerzy
Skolimowski were among those who attended, while attorney Peter
Dekom, longtime Hollywood industry execs Mike Medavoy and James
G. Robinson, producer Steve Tisch, and Cinematheque president
Sigurjon Sigvatsson rounded out the dais as hosts. Cinematheque
Director Barbara Smith and Programming Chair Charles Champlin
participated, along with LA Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, and
Community Redevelopment Chair Christine Essel.
While screenings may begin at the venue in mid-fall of this year,
the new Egyptian is officially set to debut on December 4th with
a vintage Hollywood premiere of Cecil B. DeMilles The Ten
Commandments. The event will take place on the exact 75th
anniversary of the films original world premiere at the Egyptian.
The silent film screening will be accompanied by a live orchestra.