The iconic Egyptian theatre in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Is set to reopen its doors by October 1st, 2014!
We did it.
After texting, cold calling, and passing the hat, public contributors as well as two VERY generous (and anonymous) philanthropists have earned the money required to renovate and reopen the Egyptian theatre. Since June 27th, 2013 the Egyptian’s screen has been dark and its seats empty after terms between Seattle Central Community College (Lessor) and Landmark Theatres (Lessee) to renew the venue’s lease could not be met. As a result, Seattle lost the Egyptian for the following year. Fast forward to April 16th 2014 when SIFF released just this photo:
… to say the least, everyone freaked the hell out.
When the SIFF opening night gala finally arrived, Carl Spence and Mary Bacarella took the stage and announced to an excited audience that SIFF had acquired the lease to the Egyptian. However, they would need the help of members and contributors to crowdfund a project that would renovate the very outdated cinema. One audience member even called out the suggestion of a car wash (that was me), sorry I got really carried away in all the excitement. Carl and Mary unveiled the text to 501501 campaign bumper that would accompany all SIFF features throughout the festival. Judging by the amount of donations given to reach the goal so quickly, it’s safe to say that those bumpers can be credited with most of the campaign’s success. TheBlanketFort.net did their fair share of contributing along with so many others and now we have our beautiful theatre back.
So that being said, let’s celebrate the re-opening of this Seattle landmark, but keep in mind that she’s not out of the woods.
In the current market, the viability of a single screen theatre (of which there are only about 1600 left in the U.S.) is in danger. With the rising costs of acquiring first run films as well as stringent contract criteria that accompanies them, single screen theatres are struggling to just keep the lights on. Here in Seattle we currently only have two dedicated single screen cinemas and of the two, only one is able to show first run films, the Grand Illusion is this theatre. However, the Grand Illusion focuses on indie films that see only limited domestic releases so they don’t necessarily have to compete with the megaplexes, but at the end of the day they still have to work for it. One of our other active single screen auditoriums is the Central Cinema which focuses on revivals and classic films along with an impressive food and cocktail menu to generate revenue. At the time of this writing, the big gun single screen cinema in Seattle is Cinerama on the north end of Downtown, but it is currently dark to make improvements and install one of the few 4K projectors in the world in preparation for the coming higher frame rate films planned to be released in the coming years. This will provide the kind of Niche that a cinema needs to separate itself from the pack.
One of the most beautiful things about Seattle Cinema is the wide variety of films that we are privileged to have the opportunity to see on any given night. Having the Egyptian theatre re-open will provide Seattle cinema-goers one more screen to see quality, thought provoking art that continues to be a scarcity in our modern society. And it’s not just the films, it’s a venue that accompanies them, and with all of the renovations being done to the Egyptian, it will most definitely be a well deserved companion for all the independent cinema down the road.