The journey for Netflix is a fascinating one. The company started by mailing physical DVDs to subscribers and pivoted to streaming. They were so ready to be done with physical media that they intended to spin the DVD business into Qwikster, a plan that was abandoned. Over the last year or so, the company has had to pivot back towards physical movies to be eligible for academy awards. That pivot has led to the company purchasing a physical movie theater.
The theater in question is the Egyptian Theatre, an iconic location in Hollywood. The theater was home to the premiere of classic films, such as the silent movie adaptation of Robin Hood. The venue was built in 1922 and operated for decades before being closed. A non-profit organization called American Cinematheque renovated and reopened the theater in 1998. Now, Netflix will work with the organization to renovate the theater once again and operate it as a venue for special screenings and events. The intention seems to be to merge the classic and iconic design of the theater with the modern cinema.
After a renovation, the theater will be home to weekly premieres, as well as special events from the company. This acquisition will allow Netflix to more easily bring its streaming content to a theater in order to qualify for awards. It also allows them to have a more direct impact on the film industry by preserving a piece of the industry's history. The company has often been accused of not having respect for the industry, so this could be an opportunity to change the perception.
Of course, this isn't Netflix's first experiment with physical theaters. Last year, the company leased another iconic theater, the single screen Paris Theatre in New York City. This was another closed theater revived by the company in order to screen its originals. There is now a bi-coastal presence, which will help with premieres.