A famous Hollywood relic is undergoing an important upgrade this month, and the gatekeepers shared a bit of exciting news about it yesterday. The Egyptian theater, which was built by Sid Grauman and opened in 1922, is being retrofitted to project nitrate film.
Cellulose nitrate was discontinued in 1951 after long being used as the industry standard. Unfortunately it's highly flammable, and the industry moved to replace it with the more safe alternative, cellulose acetate. It earned the ironic, though suitable nickname, "safety film."
This is a big move for revival cinema, as there aren't many places for cinephiles to view nitrate prints, which some argue "possess a uniquely beautiful image quality."
Even esteemed director Martin Scorsese praised all parties involved with the theater's upgrade, including his own Film Foundation.
“When I was told that one of the most beautiful movie theaters in the country could be retrofitted for nitrate projection, I was overjoyed, moved, and excited by the potential,” said Martin Scorsese, founder and chair of The Film Foundation. “I hope that this is the beginning of a trend.”