By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
THE $2 MILLION CONSTRUCTION DEBT IS not the Cinematheque's only financial worry -- it's just the most immediate. There's $1.7 million owed of the $2 million from HUD, with annual payments coming due starting in the fall of 2001; a $500,000 loan from Kodak to help pay for Forever Hollywood, a tourist-oriented movie directed by Todd McCarthy that is slated to begin running at the theater starting in late fall; and the $5 million endowment for office space, theater upkeep and program development.
Smith expects to spend about $1.5 million to $2 million of that on a new office building, and about $10,000 on a small bookstore in the theater. She'd also like to up the tiny advertising budget -- because the theater's programming changes almost daily, it is not listed with general movie releases in newspapers, making it difficult for the casual moviegoer to find out what's playing.
Those costs, Smith believes, won't be hard to meet, once everything at the Egyptian is open. A long-anticipated restaurant in the theater's forecourt would be a boon. Initially, the space was going to be occupied by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, who run the Border Grill in Santa Monica and Ciudad downtown. But they backed out after deciding that the dining room was too small. Sean McPhearson, of Olive and Jones fame, is now said to be interested. But there is no evidence that the restaurant will open any time soon.
Smith is hoping that box-office proceeds from Forever Hollywood, which will run several times a day, will help it pay for itself, though some observers wonder how many tour groups en route from the Wax Museum to Universal CityWalk will have the time or patience to sit through an hourlong film.
For now, the Egyptian Theater is gated off and empty during daylight hours -- prime tourist time. True to its original design, there is no marquee, leaving it to look more like a private research institute than a theater. The building itself is tucked far back from the street, behind a sturdy cast-iron fence that bars entry to the long forecourt. On any given day, passing tourists peer through the bars, straining to satisfy an image of Hollywood that the dozens of T-shirt shops and fast-food outlets lining the boulevard fail to fulfill. For the time being, this stop, too, proves a disappointment. The casually curious simply move on.
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