TCL Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on October 4, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Hi leotyx,
I’m not going to get into a discussion about what IMAX is best other than to say that “true” IMAX means nothing because any theatre licensed to show IMAX is legitimate. Maybe call it “original format” IMAX if you want!

I’d also question “as intended” by the director. Certainly he knew it would be shown in multiple formats and was OK with that, or he would have pulled a Tarantino and only released it in IMAX 70mm. When I worked in the film biz we had monitors with multiple formats outlined so all information was captured for all formats. I’m sure Nolan did that.

My point was really to compare the architecture, the relationship of audience to screen. The theatre was almost empty, I could have sat in almost any seat, and I did more once. I stand by my conclusion that the steep rake and relationship of seating to screen at the Universal Citywalk is not conducive to watching a full length movie, at least for me. The seating relationship was designed for short event films, and is spectacular for that use in my opinion, but it doesn’t work for me for a full length drama. In the end, there is no “right”, it is a matter of opinion, and I expressed mine knowing I would get some pushback!

leowtyx on October 4, 2017 at 6:22 pm

@Escort Norton

That’s not the point of seeing Dunkirk in beautiful IMAX Laser, the point is to see it “as intended” by the director.

Which is IMAX 70mm (closest true IMAX screen is AMC Univeral Citywalk).

Also, you can’t blame a theater just because you didn’t reserve a good seat in advance.

Question for anyone:

I do watch other movies at Chinese Theater, especially those with 2.39 aspect ratio because its screen is closest to that ratio in LA.

Am I correct in thinking that? Or AMC Universal Citywalk would just Letterbox/mask their screen so I get the same experience even when the screen size will become smaller than Chinese’s?

Danny Baldwin
Danny Baldwin on August 23, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Mark— It’s 1.90:1. When they ran INTERSTELLAR on 70mm there, they brought the curtains in to mark the sides for 1:43:1.

moviebuff82 on August 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm

What’s the next movie to be shown at the chinese imax…i think it’s Inhumans for one week only then the remake of it then kingsman…

markinthedark on August 22, 2017 at 1:46 pm

What was the aspect ratio for all the IMAX-filmed scenes at the Chinese? Was it the 1.43:1 as it would be for the 15 Perf 70mm prints? I saw another IMAX film at the Chinese that appeared to be 1.90:1 with room at the top and bottom of the (*%#&@ unmasked) screen to spare.

I just saw Dunkirk at the Boeing IMAX in Seattle with Laser projection and it was full 1.43 for the IMAX sourced scenes. Although the Chinese had room to spare on screen when I was there it didn’t seem to be enough to go full 1.43:1 while maintaining the width of the screen. Am I wrong?

bigjoe59 on August 22, 2017 at 11:54 am

Hello from NYC-

to Escott O. Norton many thanks for your reply. as I said I saw it at the IMAX theater in the Loews Lincoln Square complex in Manhattan and with the size of the screen, the new laser projection system and the A+ sound system it was like I was on the beach with the stranded soldiers.

also if you’re ever in NYC and go the IMAX at Lincoln Square rows h or g are the perfect rows.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 21, 2017 at 10:03 pm

BigJoe59, I finally saw Dunkirk at the Chinese and it was pretty amazing! Very immersive, with stunning visuals and sound design. If you like Nolan’s style I think you would like this. If you are frustrated by Nolan’s multilayered sound style, this will drive you crazy. That is rally the main criticism I’ve heard, that you “can’t hear the dialogue”. For me that was just fine. Now to the projection and sound. I decided to see it in 70mmIMAX so I could compare (here is another theatre nearby that was showing it in that format).
I’m sure I will get plenty of disagreement, but I thought the quality of the IMAX Laser and the IMAX 70mm were almost indistinguishable, and both looked incredible. The sound in both theatres was very similar too. What made the experience at the Chinese much better for me was the positioning of the screen and seating. At the 70mm theatre Universal Citywalk, unless you were near the very back you have to crane your neck to see the full screen, which I found uncomfortable. At the Chinese I sat at my favorite place, just behind the cross-aisle near the middle, and that put me square in the middle of the screen. No neck ache!

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 21, 2017 at 9:52 pm

It’s a nice glossy colorful book with the first pages about the history with both vintage and recent photos. There is also a timeline. The majority of the book is handprint ceremonies through the years. Some great photos there too. Amazon is also selling it, so that shipping might be cheaper.

silver on August 21, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Has anyone seen the new souvenir book that TCLchinesetheatres has begun selling on their website (for $10 plus shipping)? I assume they also pitch it to all the tourists doing the tour. “TCL Chinese Theatre History of the Iconic Hollywood Landmark Souvenir Book.” A photographic look at the theatre’s 90 year history.

I wonder if the book is worth it. Or if it’s just mostly photos of the handprints and the old movie star doing the handprints

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 1, 2017 at 12:26 pm

BigJoe59, I’ve been out of town for the last few weeks but plan to see Dunkirk at the Chinese as soon as I get back, and will report. My temptation is to also see it in 70mmIMAX at the one theatre it is playing in Los Angeles, and compare.

bigjoe59 on July 31, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Hello From NYC-

i saw Dunkirk at the Loews Lincoln Square IMAX auditorium and the experience was !!! WOW !!!. the sound and projection was A+. i felt like I was one of the stranded soldiers on the beach. what was it like at this theater?

bigjoe59 on June 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Hello Again!:–)

to Escott O. Norton I thank you yet again. from all the talk following the IMAX redo I got the impression the interior had been radically changed. but if I understand your latest reply correctly the interior is 80% the same as when it opened May of 1927. that’s good to know that the IMAX redo didn’t do away with that much.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on June 22, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Happy to help! If you just look at the walls and ceiling, I’d say closer to 80%. Including the many changes tot he seating the number would be lower. Soon I will be sharing a great “tour” of what the Chinese was like on Opening Day, put together by one of the foremost Chinese Theatre historians. He has found some amazing photos!

bigjoe59 on June 22, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Hello Again-

I want to thank Escott O. Norton for your detailed reply. it was quite kind of you to do so. a 3rd way of the asking the question. percentage wise how much of the original 1927 interior is left? 40% or less?

RogerA on June 20, 2017 at 5:14 pm

There is a large concession stand where once there was seating and two columns have been removed.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on June 20, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Hi Big Joe, There was a lot of concern about the most recent renovation, and the owners consulted closely with the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation and other preservation experts during the entire process. The biggest change was the lowering of the floor in front to increase the rake as well as the size of the screen. Lowering the floor essentially destroyed the basement and stage area. We did a behind the scenes tour just before it closed, so that area is well documented. The existing curtains were reused by simply adding a new section of fabric at the top. The original walls and ceiling were protected during construction preserved.

There have been many remodels before this, the biggest in my opinion was when the screen was widened and the 2 pagodas on either side of the proscenium were destroyed. That was way before my time, but I would have loved to see the pagodas. The other big change was the bottom of the chandelier being removed. Again, that was a while ago. There were previous changes to the rake of the seating, originally the seats started at lobby level and sloped down to the stage, but for most of my life there was a steep stairway at the back that people constantly tripped on as they were looking up at the ceiling. So in a way, the recent renovation brings the seating rake back closer to what Grauman built.

As far as what is left from 1927, the ceiling, the walls and side columns, the lobby murals and decor are preserved, the women lounge is original, and much of the behind the scenes office areas above the lobby are untouched. I’ve had meetings in Sid Grauman’s art deco office and it is like traveling back in time! Sid’s private box is also still there, and is used by VIPs. We have some post renovation pictures on our website at and on our Facebook page.

bigjoe59 on June 20, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Hello Again from NYC-

I guess another way of asking the question would have been this- while the exterior doesn’t seem to have changed much how much of the 1927 opening interior is left?

RogerA on June 20, 2017 at 1:37 pm there was a lot done to the theater for the renovation

bigjoe59 on June 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Hello From NYC-

I haven’t had the opportunity to visit L.A. since the Chinese had its IMAX redo, to which a question.

aside from the screen has anything in the theater
interior been changed that much. I am assuming it
has landmark status so that the renovation would
have been able to change just so much.

Coate on June 19, 2017 at 2:35 pm

The Chinese was among just eleven theaters in the United States that installed the then-new Dolby Digital sound system for their engagement of “Batman Returns” which opened twenty-five years ago today. And here’s the link to a retrospective article that commemorates the occasion.

RogerA on May 22, 2017 at 11:58 am

Star Wars was moved to a Mann theater in Hollywood and not the Cinerama. Sorcerer did play in the Chinese because it was previously booked and they had to play it. Mann wanted to keep Star Wars so they installed 70mm in a theater down the street and played Star Wars there until they could get rid of Sorcerer. This incident is why they built the twins. So in the future they could move a movie that wasn’t doing good business to one of the twins and keep the big house for the hit. Once Star Wars was back in the Chinese it stayed there for a record run. The twins are long gone demolished for the Hollywood Highland redo.

moviebuff82 on May 22, 2017 at 11:38 am

40 years ago this past thursday Star Wars had its premiere at this theater when it was a single screen venue and played there for two weeks before being moved to the hollywood cinerama due to Sorcerer playing there. That movie didn’t fare as well as Star Wars, and when Star Wars returned to the Chinese during the first weekend of August, there was a lavish ceremony featuring R2D2 and C3PO putting handprints on the cement. By then, Star Wars was playing in around 1,000 theatres, a huge improvement from 32-40 theatres during Memorial Day weekend of 1977 when Fox deemed that movie a B-picture while The Other Side Of Midnight was supposed to be their big hit. Same thing happened with Poltergiest becoming the A picture while ET was the B five years after the movie came out.

RogerA on May 19, 2017 at 6:05 pm

The square footage of the Chinese theater is extreme. It has changed over the years with the various modifications. Someone once estimated it to be around 500,000 cubic feet. Because of its size it was hard to get proper sound levels. The center channel high frequency horn would often fail from being over driven. The auditorium doesn’t look that big but it is an optical illusion. One time I chose to walk from the stage to the front during a power failure with no lights in the auditorium. My light was just absorbed by the darkness. It just doesn’t look as big as it is.

The screen is in an area that was once the stage. The stage is gone now. Partially removed for the Windjammer modification the remainder of the stage was removed for the IMAX modification. Two pillars in the front of the auditorium were also removed years ago for the Windjammer modification. The area these pillars were supporting dropped an inch or two when they were removed. These pillars matched the other pillars but were in front of the auditorium to the left and right of the stage. These pillars limited the screen size and were removed to install the huge Windjammer screen.

At one time there were two areas in the rear of the auditorium that was the nursery. The concession stand is new and keeps growing. When the Windjammer booth was removed and the projectors moved back upstairs the concession stand was enlarged. So over the years the Chinese has changed but still is huge.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on May 18, 2017 at 10:27 pm

My understanding is that the Chinese is the largest IMAX Theatre, based on seating capacity, not on screen size.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 18, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Lincoln Square has the largest IMAX screen in North America at 97x76 feet. The screen at the Chinese is almost as wide but not as tall, at 94x46 feet.