Netflix is officially getting, or at least trying to get, into the movie theater business. The world's largest streaming service has been increasingly asserting itself as an important, key player in modern Hollywood. Not only are they pumping more money into creating original content than anyone else right now, but they recently became an official member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and very nearly won a Best Picture Oscar with Roma this year. Now, they're taking one more step toward total domination by trying to purchase a legendary Hollywood theater.
According to a new report, Netflix is in talks to purchase the Egyptian Theatre, located on Hollywood Boulevard in California. This would mark the company's first foray into acquiring actual movie theaters. The streaming service does release some of its movies in theaters in a limited capacity on a case-by-case basis, more often than not just to qualify for awards (which has been subject to some controversy amongst the Hollywood elite). Case in point, they're trying to get in good standing with the cinema community and this is part of their plan to make that happen.
Should Netflix actually purchase the Egyptian Theatre from American Cinematheque, in a deal that is said to be worth tens of millions, it would be more of a partnership than a takeover. While Netflix would show some of their movies at the iconic location and host premieres for some of their big releases, it would be on weeknights. Meanwhile, they would still allow American Cinematheque to program screenings, special events and festivals on weekends. They would operate autonomously. It's said to be viewed as more of a partnership. Ultimately, it would give the group financial security and could actually serve to expand what they can do for the cinema community.
The Egyptian Theatre is one of the most iconic movie theaters in the world. It was originally opened in the early 1920s and has been standing ever since. It was built by Sid Grauman and actually played host to the first ever Hollywood premiere, which was for Robin Hood in 1922. The Cinematheque as its known know was established in 1981 and in 1998 they completed a $12.8 million renovation of the theater.
Having the kind of money Netflix has at its disposal could certainly boost the theater's profile. But this could be a slippery slope. While the report cautions that this shouldn't be viewed as the first step in a plan for Netflix to have a larger operational movie theater business, that can't be ruled out. If there is more pressure on Netflix to release their movies in theaters, one has to assume they would look at taking control of that element of the business for themselves. It's a Netflix world, we're just living in it and binge-watching the content they provide us with. This news was first reported by Deadline.