The SIFF Opening Night Gala is going on right now at Seattle Center and ace reporter Adrian Ryan is on the scene. He just let me know that SIFF staff just announced that they're buying the Uptown Theater in Queen Anne, making it a permanent home for SIFF programming. More importantly for many of our readers, they announced that they're taking over the Egyptian Theatre on Capitol Hill. We just got a press release from Seattle Central Community College confirming that SIFF is officially leasing the Egyptian from SCCC, and they'll be programming there year-round.
SIFF will update and renovate the Egyptian, "adding additional seating, improving the sound and projection equipment, refurbishing existing signage, adding a new bar and concessions area, installing new carpeting and fresh paint, expanding the bathrooms and more." Rumors of SIFF taking over the Egyptian have been circulating for months now, but it's finally official. The Egyptian will be screening movies throughout the film festival, but the theater will presumably close for a while as these renovations happen, and will reopen for good, rumors indicate, in fall or winter. We'll have more information soon. For now, here's the SCCC press release:
Seattle Central’s Egyptian Theatre becomes permanent home for SIFF
Lease agreement brings independent film to iconic theater year-round
The iconic Egyptian Theatre will become a year-round venue for independent film now that Seattle Central College and the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) have reached an agreement on a long-term lease. The revenue generated from the lease will directly support the college’s instructional programs and student support services. Located at 801 E. Pine St. in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, the Egyptian was originally constructed in 1915 as the Masonic Temple and has been a part of Seattle Central’s campus since 1992.
“It’s important for Seattle Central to maintain the cultural value of the Egyptian Theatre for the benefit of the residents of Capitol Hill and the city of Seattle. We look forward to being a partner with SIFF for many years to come,” said Paul Killpatrick, Ph.D., president of Seattle Central.
"Seattle Central College has been a great landlord of the Egyptian Theatre since they purchased the Masonic Temple. We are excited to work with the college to revive one of Seattle's beloved and historic cinema icons,” said Carl Spence, SIFF’s artistic director.
In June of 2013, Landmark Theatres, a nationwide chain that exhibits independent films, declined to enter into a new lease after operating the Egyptian since the late eighties. The college opened a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) last year to identify a replacement tenant for the nearly 100-year old theater. The RFP called for the winning organization to allow SIFF to continue using the 600-seat venue to screen films.
SIFF, which is kicking off its 2014 festival this week, has been using the Egyptian as a venue for its annual film festival since 1980, when it converted the building into an Egyptian-themed cinema. This long history makes SIFF a natural fit to assume year-round operations. The initial lease term is for 10 years and may be extended in five-year increments. Monthly rent is set at $2,500 per month, with a three percent increase each year, and SIFF is also responsible for all utilities and a leasehold excise tax.
As part of the agreement, SIFF has committed to extensive renovations and improvements to the theater. These include adding additional seating, improving the sound and projection equipment, refurbishing existing signage, adding a new bar and concessions area, installing new carpeting and fresh paint, expanding the bathrooms and more.
“This is a win-win situation,” said Jeff Keever, director of auxiliary services for the college. “SIFF gets to stay in a historic, centrally-located venue, the public will be able to see world-class films year-round, and the college will receive funds that benefit students.”