Transport yourself back to 1922, Hollywood California. Hollywood is in its hey day and King Tut’s tomb has just been discovered in Egypt. Egyptian fever has hit the world. With a seating capacity of 2,071 seats and a special appendage to the stage for opening prologues and performances, “Robin Hood” is shown at Hollywood’s first-ever movie premiere at the Grand Opening of the Egyptian Theatre on October 18, 1922, with an admission price of $0.75. This theatre was Sid Grauman’s $800,000 brainchild and he oversaw every last glorious detail. Only to birth the world famous Chinese Theatre across the street five years later in 1927. These were the good old days of Hollywood, to be sure.
As Hollywood declined in later decades, and the economy bottomed out in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, this once lavish movie palace fell into such disrepair that it was closed and sold to American Cinematique for $1 with the provision that this historic landmark be restored to its original splendor. After 2 years and a nearly $13 million renovation, the Egyptian Theatre arose from the ashes just like a Phoenix, in December 1998. Fast forward to October 5, 2014 and here I am at the (original) Cleopatra screening and special event. What a treat! What a beauty!
The restoration did come with a few structural changes, but you can still feel the energy of its exquisite past. A fantastic display of historical artifacts in the lobby. I could only imagine the celebrity-filled gala premieres that took place here back in the day.
I got to watch this legendary 1934 film
as well as attend a Q&A session afterwards with a Hollywood film historian. Too cool!
For those of you who missed this festive event, the American Cinematique hosts tours of this theatre once a month for a very reasonable price. Embrace American film history and go see this place.
Hooray for Hollywood!