El Capitan Theatre

6838 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Showing 276 - 300 of 308 comments

William on October 28, 2004 at 3:01 pm

When Pacific Theatres took over the Paramount Theatre. They ran it into the ground, by booking B type studio film into it. When SRO ran the theatre they cared about it. Most of the time the balconies in many of the theatres would go unused because the films that were booked into the theatre, produced lesser numbers in box office. With that your theatre had a budget for tickets sold to how many floor staff that you could have working on a shift. If the film was a dog you could not open the balcony, because you would have to staff that extra usher and bring in an extra cleaning person to clean the balcony. It does not sound like much to have that extra person or persons. But the janitors position at these theatres were a part of
the union.

JimRankin on October 28, 2004 at 9:24 am

Ed, another reason many theatres didn’t open their balconies was that their insurnace carriers forced them to pay a higher premium for the time the balcony was open, and often also added terms such as a specified minimum of ushers up there, guaranteed working aisle lights, repaired seats, etc. Also, many fire codes specified a certain minimum number of working lights —usually set by the building inspector during an inspection —and many theatres did NOT maintain any more lights than they were forced to! Yes, they were cheap about it, but then the owner was only interested in profits, not beauty of theatre!

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on October 28, 2004 at 8:46 am

Here Here Ed, I Agree!

Ed Collins
Ed Collins on September 6, 2004 at 3:45 am

One more comment, if I may:

When I worked at the Paramount Theatre, I never understood why we didn’t open the balcony. It was a beautiful balcony, which few theatres could boast of, and the only time we EVER opened it was on Friday and Saturday evenings when we expected the lower section to fill up.

Payroll, or course, was the reason. If we OPEN the balcony each day then we have to CLEAN the balcony… which costs money. By keeping the balcony closed we save money.

Hogwash. We should have allowed patrons to view the movie from the balcony if the wished for each and every performance. So WHAT if we spend a few dollars more cleaning it each night! Big deal. Instead, what do we do? We keep it closed and thus rob countless people of a wonderful movie experience by not allowing them to watch the movie from there. Were we not in the ENTERTAINMENT business?

If we HAD opened it, we probably would have sold a few more tickets each night, which right there would have paid for the additional time our janitor needed to clean it. How many Hollywood theatres at that time had such balconys? Very few, I know that.

SRO was a WONDERFUL company to work for and throughout its organization were MANY bright and hard-working individuals. But like many other companies, we often went overboard trying to save pennies.

My hat is off to Disney for their glorius restoration.

Ed Collins
Ed Collins on September 3, 2004 at 9:27 am

The following paragraphs were taken from an old SRO company newsletter, dated in the fall of 1979. Mark G. Lindermann wrote the article:

“Patrons of SRO’s Paramount Theatre in Holywood recently witnessed a massive facelift taking place in the classic house. District Manager Mike Scheff worked long hours with architects in order to come up with renovations which would compliment the Paramount’s classic lines while at the same time modernizing the theatre’s appearance and improving its efficiency.

When SRO first took over the Paramount in the fall of 1976, their first actions were to renovate the sound system of the house, installing the most up-to-date facilites. Once the sound system and projection booth had been overhauled, SRO went to work on the cosmetic appearances in the lobby.

A new candy stand was constructed last summer, in earth toned tile which reflects the color of the architecture of the theatre’s late 1920’s consctruction. The entire lobby and stairwell of the Paramount’s first floor are carpet weave which closely approximates the weave of the theatre’s original carpeting. The ceramic tile of the candy stand blends nicely with the new decorative tile on the lower ceilings: gold shot through with deeper toned gold veining.

While the lobby of the Paramount is already quite spacious, an illusion of ever greater depth is gained while at the same time tying together the themes of the concession stand, carpet, and ceiling by mirroring the lobby and outer auditorium walls. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors marbled with gold are used here, cut and installed at angles to catch and toss about the light, creating a most unique and fascinating effect.

Along with the lobby, all of the Paramount’s lower auditorium seating, almost 1,000 seats in all, have been recushioned and recovered in a rich and plush deep red mohair, once again adding to the flavor of the house’s heritage."

Ed Collins
Ed Collins on September 3, 2004 at 1:55 am

I have very many fond memories of this theatre. I worked here as an assistant manager in 1982 or 1983. It was known as the Paramount Theatre then, operated by SRO.

I can recall many sellouts. Even before the recent 1990s renovation, it was an abolute beautiful house, and was considered one of SRO’s flagship theatres.

A couple of films that I vividly remember showing are Death Wish III (parts of this movie were filmed directly across the street!) and Prince of the City.

Movie stars attending the theatre was a common occurance. For it was here that I met Chuck Norris and got his autograph.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the Paramount was a live play theatre. As an assistant manager, I had access to all of the wonderful rooms behind the movie screen. These rooms, 50 years ago, were the dressing rooms, bathrooms, etc. from those early vaudeville days. We used some of them for storage but most weren’t used at all. I remember there were several floors and all were dirty, filthy, broken down and downright scary to be in at night. (I suppose 30+ years of neglect can do that.) But at the same time, it was wonderful to go back there, get lost, and explore that section of the theatre. Even all of the neglect and disrepair could not erase the history and nostalgia that I knew existed within the walls.

William on August 31, 2004 at 12:17 pm

The theatre is a beautiful place, but most of it is Disney-Deco.

Bway on August 31, 2004 at 12:12 pm

I have only been in the theater once, and it was to see the 101 Dalmatians – the one with actors, not the animated version.
It was a beautiful place indeed, although I preferred the Chinese Theater across the street.

Mark1 on July 26, 2004 at 2:29 pm

Have heard Linda Evans once worked at the candy counter in this theatre.

William on May 25, 2004 at 5:50 pm

Brucec – That’s a good idea, but one problem with that plan was during the 80’s and 90’s. When every major theatre was showing First Run movies. The best business was always at the Chinese Theatre and the ones that were near. During that time Hollywood Boulevard and the movie business was changing. Because if you booked the same type of film (Drama, Comedy etc…) into the Chinese and the Hollywood
Pacific Theatres. The Chinese Theatre would have better grosses. During the 60’s-70’s, you could play anything on the Boulevard and do well. When I was in Los Angeles, I projected at many of those theatres along the Boulevard. The Chinese could play anything and make money. But during that time the Hollywood Pacific and the near by theatres, did well with action, horror features. When during the 80’s when SRO Theatres were still in the Los Angeles market. They did well with the Paramount and the Crest Theatres. But when Pacific Theatres took over the Paramount, they booked lesser type features on to that screen (“Superman IV”, “Caddyshack 2”, etc..) One of the Best things I remember about the Paramount Theatre. Was they had the Best Theatre Hot Dogs on Hollywood Boulevard.
Over the years each chain showcased different studios on their screens. And that sometimes would change very fast from year to year.
Like during the 50’s-70’s the Pantages Theatre, Pix Theatre Warner Theatre were booked with alot of Warner Bros. product. During the 50’s -60’s the Egyptian Theatre played many MGM features. During the early days the Chinese Theatre play Fox and UA feature, since both companies owned the theatre.

bruceanthony on May 25, 2004 at 4:57 pm

I was at the grand re-opening of the El Capitan with the presentation of “The Rocketeer”. The best seats to view a movie at the El Cap is the mezzanine portion of the balcony.Disney’s original plan was to twin the theatre and call it the Boulevard. The LA Hisorical Society convinced Disney to restore it as a single screen and Disney is glad they did. Disney hold most of its premieres here and can do what they want and use the theatre to promote there films. I have never had a bad experience attending movies here over the years. I find the screen to be quite large in realtion to the theatre and it has fantastic sound.I always thought that each of the major studios should have each restored a theatre along the boulevard to showcase there films the way Disney does. I always thought Warner Bros with its huge release schedule should have taken the Pacific Theartre(Warner)and restored it and used it to showcase films and there premieres. Graumans Chinese accross the street is jointly owned by Paramount and Warner Bros so they have to rotate whos picture gets to play the main house.brucec

JimRankin on May 5, 2004 at 5:52 am

In the otherwise excellent book, “The Last Remaining Seats: Movie Palaces of Tinseltown” by Berger and Conser (1997), there is on page 85 a color photo of the proscenium of the EL CAPITAN showing a giant ‘beam’ or ‘track’ directly in front of the grand drapery. There is no mention of it in the caption, as though no one would notice such an ugly thing was there! It does not appear in the two (sadly, not enlargeable) photos on the theatre’s web site (http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/el_capitan/about.html), so does anyone know what that ugly thing is and why it was there during prime professional photography for the book?

Daria on May 5, 2004 at 1:17 am

I saw the last feature shown here under the name “The Paramount Theater”—-that was “Peter Pan” in the summer of 1990. It was then closed for a lengthy renovation. I’m pretty sure that the first film shown once it reopened was another of my Disney favorites, “The Rocketeer.” It was the perfect setting for that art deco-clad film.

And as much as I love that theater, I no longer buy the pre-release tickets offered by Disney at $25-30 a pop. After seeing “Pocahantas” there and being stuck in an assigned seat with some idiot behind me who couldn’t be bothered to parent his daughter to make her stop kicking my seat, I decided it wasn’t worth wasting my money.

toddwrtr on April 26, 2004 at 5:41 pm

One of the few theaters that rarely uses “film” – it is almost exclusively Digital (DLP) Projection.

JakeM on April 22, 2004 at 9:45 pm

The website link took me to Disneystore.com. This one should work better: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/el_capitan/

I also saw “The Lion King” here in ‘94 and even though I was only 11, I was awed by this theatre. The sound, in particular, was phenomenal! The floor shook with each step the elephants took. A beautiful and well run palace!

JodarMovieFan on April 1, 2004 at 9:09 am

I saw “The Lion King” here back in 1993 and was amazed at how ornate this theater is. The screen, itself, isn’t that large but what was different about this theater was the preshow live entertainment presentation. It would be fun to revisit the theater to see what other preshow bits are done for the other films booked at this theater.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on February 5, 2004 at 12:11 am

Hollywood Palace is North of Hollywood Blvd on Vine, across from Capital Records.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on February 5, 2004 at 12:09 am

Yes, I ran film (projectionist) there in 1978 when it was the Pacific’s Paramount and again in 1999 after leaving the Chinese across the street after Disney bought it outright from Pacific. By then, it had been renamed, “El Capitan.”

rantzau on January 22, 2004 at 1:43 pm

I have an additional comment…A really nice theather…Except for the leg room, these seats have less leg room than seat’s on an airplane. If you are more than 5'8 you will be suffering, but it is worth it just for one time.

JohnGuilford on January 22, 2004 at 1:24 pm

I was there in 2003. It’s a little pricey for a ticket, seems like it was $16, but it was worth the trip. Really beautiful inside. But the best part was the theatre organ concert before each show. Definitely worth a trip if you are ever in the LA area.

rantzau on November 21, 2003 at 2:51 pm

Are there any “BAD” seats in this theater? Is upstairs better than below?

William on November 12, 2003 at 12:37 pm

The El Capitan originally opened as a legitimate playhouse , the theatre was built by prominent Los Angeles developer Charles E. Toberman. Toberman was the first to see the potential of a mixed use retail and theatre district on Hollywood Boulevard that was largely residential and agricultural at the time. His obervation of the success of this mix in downtown Los Angeles led him to believe that a theatre district could be key to Hollywood’s evolution as highly successful commercial district of Los Angeles. Some of his early projects include the Egyptian Theatre, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, The Roosevelt Hotel and the Mosonic Temple.
Toberman hired renowned theatre architect G. Albert Lansburgh to design the exotic East Indian interior of the theatre. Some of Lansburgh’s other buildings include the Orpheum Theatre, Wiltern Theatre, Warner Hollywood Theatre and the Shrine Auditorium. The Los Angeles based firm of Morgan, Walls & Clements created the Spanish Colonial exerior.
The theatre opened to live performances May 3, 1926 with “Charlot’s Revue”, a song and dance variety show starring Jack Buchanan, Gertrude Lawrence and Beatrice Lillie. Rave reviews called the El Capitan “Hollywood’s New Temple of Spoken Drama” and one of the most palatial structures in America. The theatre established a firm reputation by producing a series of shows that attracted widespread support in the entertianment community. Over 120 live productions including “No, No, Nanette”, “Abie’s Irish Rose” and “Of Mice and Men” starred such famous performers as Joan Fontaine, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Lon Chaney Jr., Joe E. Brown, Buster Keaton, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards and Will Rogers.
About 80% of the restored ceiling is original. This giled and hand painted ceiling had more than 70 holes punched through the plaster to permit the suspension of a drop ceiling in an earlier remodeling. It was styled after the gilded ceilings of the Venetian Renaissance era that inspired the baroque gilded ceilings of Italy, France and Spain. The El Capitan’s original lighting fixtures were taken out in a 1942 renovation. these chandeliers were reproduced from photographs.
“Citizen Kane” had its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre on May 9, 1941. The brother and sister producing team Fanchon Wolff Simon and Marco Wolff convinced Paramount Hollywood Theatre Corporation, who by this time had taken over the lease of the El Capitan, to assign 50% of its lease to them. Fanchon & Marco were noted for their circuit of touring road shows for movie houses and had established themselves at the downtown Paramount. They closed the theatre and did extensive renovations. The theatre reopened as the Paramount Theatre in March 1942 with Cecil B. DeMille’s “Reap The Wild Wind” It was obvious that a great deal of work had been done. The exterior face above the entrance contained a brightly lit marquee. The outer ticket lobby and main lobby were updated, resulting in a modern streamlined look that included much neon decoration. Lowered ceilings were put in place throughout. In the outer lobby terrazzo replaced stamped concrete on the floor. The walls were eventually covered with mirrors. one of the exotic features of the remodeled theatre was a coconut milk abr in the location of this current snackbar. It featured bamboo furnishings, fake palm trees and even a two-tone carpet patterned to simulate a shadow pattern under each tree.

frenchjr25 on October 20, 2003 at 2:57 pm

Thanx so much for clearing up the confusion over the other El Capitain theatre. In many large cities there have been many theatres with more than one name, and one name can end up being used over time for many different places.


HarryLime on October 19, 2003 at 4:35 pm

The Hollywood Playhouse (1927 – 1945), located at 1735 North Vine Street, recently The Palace and now The Avalon Theatre (a Clear Channel operation), was formerly the El Capitan, and the Jerry Lewis Theatre

unknown on October 19, 2003 at 3:30 pm

This is true about the Hollywood Palace.

To further confuse things, there was also another “El Capitan Theatre” name applied to another theatre
on H'wood Blvd. “This Is Your Life” was b'cast from there and about 1954
Laurel and Hardy were saluted on this program for their comedic efforts during the preceeding 30 years.