Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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UA Egyptian Theatres D-150 screen (75 x 30 feet)

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Builder Charles E. Toberman recruited Sid Grauman to open the first of the grand Hollywood movie palaces and in 1920 when it was first announced, the plans were for it to be designed in a Spanish style. The Egyptian Theatre cost $800,000, was constructed over 18 months and had a seating capacity of 1,771 (all on one level). The Egyptian theme was chosen for the name and decor to take advantage of the excitement drawn by the discoveries and searches in Egypt for ancient artifact such as King Tutankhamen’s tomb (which was discovered by Englishman Howard C. Carter on 26th November 1922;five weeks after the Egyptian Theatre opened). Architects Mendel Meyer & Phillip W. Holler of the Milwaukee Building Co. designed the building with decorator Raymond M. Kennedy in charge of decorative details. This theatre was among the first of many Egyptian Revival style theatres in the US.

“Robin Hood” was shown at the first ever ‘Hollywood Premiere’ at the grand opening of Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre on October 18, 1922 and continued to be screened until the first week of April 1923. The next attraction was “The Covered Wagon” followed by “The Ten Commandments” which premiered at the theatre on December 4, 1923. This was followed by “The Thief of Bagdad” and all had long runs, in fact Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre only played four movies in its first three years of operation. Grauman also presented an elaborate live stage show ‘Prologue’ with each performance of the movies.

After Grauman departed the Egyptian Theatre in 1927 to open Grauman’s Chinese Theatre along the Boulevard, Fox West Coast Theatres operated the Egyptian Theatre as a re-run house (a clause in the contract kept the Grauman name on the theatre). In 1944, the Egyptian Theatre became the exclusive Hollywood showcase for MGM and it became a first-run premiere house again.

A large curved Todd A-O screen was installed for the Roadshow engagement in 70mm of “Oklahoma” which had its West Coast Premiere on November 17, 1955. Sadly the installation of the huge 75feet wide screen led to the demolition of the elaborate original Egyptian style proscenium arch. A new projection suite was built at seating level in the rear of the orchestra seating and the auditorium walls were covered in yellow drapes. It was most likely that it was at this period of time that the original Wurlitzer 3Manual/15Ranks organ was removed from the building.

Additional West Coast Premiere’s and engagements of 70mm movies included “South Pacific”(May 21, 1958, and was shown for more than one year), “Ben Hur”(November 24, 1959 and ran for two years), “King of Kings”(October 12, 1959), “Mutiny on the Bounty”(November 15, 1962), “The Cardinal”(December 19, 1963), “My Fair Lady”(October 28, 1964 and ran for more than a year), “Hawaii”(October 12, 1966), “Funny Girl”(October 9, 1968 and was the last of the long Road Show presentations), and “The Poseidon Adventure”(December 14, 1972). The World Premier in 70mm of “Marooned” was held December 12, 1969.

From 1949 until it closed in 1992, United Artists were the operator of the Egyptian Theatre. From the 1970’s, 20th Century Fox movies were showcased. In 1969 a huge curved movie screen of about 90 feet wide was installed. United Artists added two small auditoriums in what had been a store on the east side rear of the theatre.

In its last years United Artists were operating the Egyptian Theatre as a last run discount house with $1.50 admission.

After closing in 1992, the main original auditorium was was shuttered, while the screen Egyptian 2 & 3 were converted into live theatre use. The original Egyptian Theatre was badly damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The City of Los Angeles had purchased the theatre a few months before the earthquake and so that it could be re-opened, ownership was transferred for $1.00 to the American Cinematheque. This classic movie theatre was given a stylish multi-million dollar make-over and renovation. The palm tree lined forecourt was restored to its original grandeur. The interior was renovated with solid, minimalist quality and state of the art technology. The main auditorium named for philanthropist Lloyd E. Ringler was reopened with its original, ornate sunburst ceiling and 616 seats. The screen is 53 feet wide and 27 feet high. A second theatre named after donor Steven Spielberg, is downstairs, and has 78 seats.

A key part of the revitalization of Hollywood Boulevard, the theatre reopened to the public, appropriately, with “The Prince of Egypt”. Among the celebratory reopening festivities was the ‘Vintage Premier’ of the 1922 version of “The Ten Commandments” on 4th December 1998, the exact 75th Anniversary of the film’s original World Premiere at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre.

In the meantime, the former Egyptian 2 & 3 screen have been re-opened as the Arena Cinema in 2013, but are not associated with the American Cinematheque.

Contributed by Howard B. Haas, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 238 comments)

Flix70
Flix70 on November 16, 2016 at 9:26 am

Anybody catch “Citizen Kane” at the Egyptian this past Sunday as part of AFI Fest? This is another film Warner Brothers should partner with the American Cinematheque to exhibit twice a year.

Flix70
Flix70 on December 1, 2016 at 8:04 am

Dates for December “2001” screenings @ the Egyptian are as follows: 12/9-12/11, 12/16-12/18 & 12/26-12/27. One screening per day. All shows start @ 7:30 PM. Enjoy!

Flix70
Flix70 on February 6, 2017 at 9:12 am

Peter Weller & screenwriter Ed Neumeier on hand for a 30th-anniversary screening of “Robocop” Thursday, Feb. 9 @ the Egyptian. Tickets still available. http://amcinematheque.tumblr.com/post/156893272915/robocop-1987

Flix70
Flix70 on April 27, 2017 at 8:54 am

“Citizen Kane” returns to the Egyptian Sunday, May 7 @ 7:30 PM. Part of a Welles double bill with “F For Fake.”

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on May 22, 2017 at 11:42 am

The first Alien movie played at this theater nearly 38 years ago.

moax429
moax429 on May 22, 2017 at 12:18 pm

So if the Egyptian showcased 20th Century Fox movies during the 70’s, I take it the original “Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope)” played here during its original run in 1977? Or possibly the first rerelease in 1978?

Just curious.

vindanpar
vindanpar on June 6, 2017 at 1:32 pm

I believe it opened at the Chinese. There are pictures somewhere of it on the marquee with enormous crowds outside.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on June 9, 2017 at 3:35 pm

1955 photo added via Scott Cisco. “Oklahoma” shares the Egyptian marquee.

RogerA
RogerA on June 15, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Just saw The Dark Crystal (1982) in 70mm An original print discovered in Europe

Coate
Coate on June 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm

moax429 and vindanpar: The original “Star Wars” first run was at the Chinese. The only time I’m aware of the original “Star Wars” playing the large, main screen of the Egyptian was during a one-time-only charity triple feature on March 28th, 1985. A brief re-release run in one of the Egyptian’s smaller auditoriums took place in August 1978 and September 1982.

The 1980 first run of “Empire” and 1983 first run of “Jedi” were at the Egyptian.

As many of you are no doubt aware, I’ve written extensively about the “Star Wars” release history. Here’s the link to my latest retrospective on the subject which includes mention of the Chinese run (two of them, actually) and a whole lot more.

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