Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Egyptian was built by showman Sid Grauman , who also built the nearby Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard and the Million Dollar Theater on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. The theatre originally cost $800,000 and took 18 months to build. Architects Meyer & Holler designed the Egyptian Theatre, and it was built by The Milwaukee Building Company .
The Egyptian Theatre was the site of the first-ever Hollywood premiere. The film was Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.. The grand opening premiere was on Wednesday, October 18, 1922. The film reportedly cost over $1 million. Tickets were $5.00 for the premiere of Robin Hood. One could reserve a seat up to two weeks in advance for the daily performances. Evening admission was $.75, $1.00 or $1.50. The film was not shown in any other Los Angeles theater that year.
Grauman left the Egyptian in 1927 to reign at the new Chinese Theater across the street.
The exterior of the theater is in the Egyptian Revival style. However, the attentive visitor will notice roof pans above the main entrance, items which are not quite ancient Egyptian. Originally, plans showed a Hispanic styled theatre, but these plans where changed to Egyptian style after the discovery of King Tut's tomb by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. Since at that time the pans had already been delivered and payed for, they were kept.
The exterior and interiour walls contain Egyptian-style paintings and hieroglyphics. The four massive columns that mark the theatre's main entrance are 4 1/2 feet wide and rise 20 feet.
Courtesy of Southern California's sunny weather is the large courtyard (45 feet wide and 150 feet long) in the front, complete with a fountain and queen palm trees. This is actually the "entrance hall" (the theatre doors used to open directly into the auditorium) and was specifically designed to host the famous red carpet ceremony.
Guided tours are offered by American Cinematheque 's staff on weekends.
The American Cinematheque purchased the theatre from the City of Los Angeles in 1996 for $1.00 with the provision that this historical landmark would be restored to its original grandeur and re-opened as a movie theatre showcasing the organization's celebrated, public programming.
The Egyptian Theatre was re-opened to the public on December 4, 1998 after a $12.8 million renovation. The original theatre capacity topped 2,000, but has been reduced to 616 to make way for another smaller screening theatre. The larger 616 seat theatre (The Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre) is named after Los Angeles philanthropist Lloyd E. Rigler . The smaller, 77 seat theatre (The Spielberg Theatre) is named for Hollywood producer / director Steven Spielberg.
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