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The building the theatre is housed in was built in 1919.
Interesting trivia related to this building: In the mid to late 70’s John Holmes was utilizing 5466 Santa Monica Blvd. as his business mailing address (currently the discount store located next door to the Tiki Theatre, but likely some sort of message/postal box service in Holmes' day).
Over the past month, they’ve boarded over the theatre and office space entrances, removed an old tobacco store sign, and “blacked out” the street level units. Whether this is a sign someone is about to undertake some work on the property or merely the final stage of “mothballing” the building is a mystery (i.e. nothing has been mentioned in the media).
dctrig: as far as the ceiling goes, it looks different because they switched over to LED lighting; bringing out a lot of the detail which was not as visible under the previous incandescent lighting.
Walking by this afternoon, I noticed they’ve added a metal “TCL Chinese Theatres” sign directly above the main doorway. Between a work ladder still being adjacent to the area and my not noting it before (I walk by the theatre almost daily these days), I assume this was just installed. While not overwhelming or obnoxious, it does seem to look a bit out of place (in my opinion). I’ve uploaded two pictures.
Yikes! That would be a terrifying welcome.
Regarding the whole IMAX issue: In the end, the theatre will have a larger screen and, more importantly, competitive bookings. Whether the branding attached to that is IMAX, ETX, IDX, XD, or Giganto-Vision is a moot point. I would much rather see the Chinese thriving with “IMAX lite” than struggling without it.
Jerry Lewis Mini Cinemas caught on for a time. The company, a partnership between Jerry Lewis and the Network Cinema Corporation,were in business from 1969 to 1980. At the company’s peak (mid 1970’s), there were roughly 200 franchised theatres operating and another 100 pending development. It was more a case of an idea that did catch on but couldn’t be sustained.
In the 1970’s, Debbie Reyonlds was almost the universal “go to” celebrity for grand openings and promotions. You’ll find her name attached to countless theatre openings from the period. At the time, she was attempting to pull herself out of financial distress (husband Harry Karl had gambled away her money)and she was willing to lend her name/presence to nearly any paying gig.
Originally opened as Sardi’s restaurant in 1933. After a fire, it reopened as a nightclub. Then, it became the Cave adult book store/theatre. After that, it became the Hollywood Cabaret strip club. Now, it’s the Deja Vu Showgirls strip club. It should probably be listed as “closed”, as the building’s current incarnation doesn’t show movies or even have a screen in place.
The “spooky old abandoned, derelict apartment building” was the Garden Court Apartments.
I’m having trouble picturing where the Avon was. That block of Hollywood Blvd consisted of the Hillcrest Motor Building and the Garden Court Apartments throughout the 20th century. The apartment building stood from 1917 to 1984; the Hillcrest building (later a Shakey’s Pizza, Motorama Museum, Hertz/Avis car rental, and always a collection of misc stores on street level)1929 to present. The apartment building was replaced by the current shopping center (former home to the Galaxy Theatre).
The Garden Court was at 7021 Hollywood Blvd. and the building on the opposite corner of Hollywood and Sycamore, which currently houses Author’s Services, is 7051. Given the Avon’s listed address being 7039, that would require some sort of building wedged in between the apartment building and the corner of Hollywood and Sycamore. However, every picture I’ve found shows that parcel of land being a small parking lot up until the shopping center was built.
While the theatre was shut down by the city in 1983, the legal battle between the City of Anaheim and the Pussycat chain continued until the Summer of 1986; at which time the city paid $800,000 in an out of court settlement.
To handle the demolition stage of the remodel, they appear to have broken through a wall in the underground parking garage and accessed the Chinese Theatre’s basement. Monday through Thursday, debris is being carted up the Orange Drive parking entrance and hauled away in a dumpster. Thus far, the debris has been little more than concrete and miscellaneous metal (i.e. nothing particularly interesting being hauled away). I uploaded a picture of the work.
In 1977, the Hillcrest 4 hosted the “world premiere” of the super cheesy movie “Supervan” (the movie had been filmed in the area).
“I am told that the new laser light source delivers a picture as bright as carbon arc used to give.”
Laser projection will be able to play 3D at brightness levels of 14 foot lamberts on the IMAX screen. So, that is a huge improvement from what one normally finds with 3D image brightness on screens of any size. Perhaps, more importantly, the laser technology allows for a uniform picture on large screens (3D and 2D). The demonstration conducted at last year’s CinemaCon was very impressive.
While I’m not fully sold on the proposed alterations either, I do hold out hope that these new deals and changes might place the Chinese back in to the realm of being a competitive cinema once again. Perhaps, the “latest and greatest” technology or the IMAX deal will finally result in better bookings.
While the three technologies cited in the article certainly resulted in dramatic changes, I don’t agree that those are the biggest industry defining moments, let alone the only comparable shifts. It could be argued that the Paramount anti trust cases of the late 40’s, the 70’s multiplex era, and the 90’s megaplex era had even more of an impact on the direction of the exhibition industry.
While I’m a bit uneasy about some of this pending remodel, articles, such as the one linked to here, seem to be overlooking the fact that these changes are being made to features which have already been altered from their original specs. The auditorium floor, screen, box office, etc. are currently significantly different from “Sid’s day”. It’s not really a question of altering areas of historical significance, it’s more a question of whether existing alterations are made better or worse via this remodel.
The prints which remain in front of the theatre are:
Linda Lovelace – 12/20/73
Jay Lawrence – 11/19/74 (a radio DJ for KLAC at the time)
Georgina Spelvin – 9/29/77
Marilyn Chambers – 5/23/80
Harry Reems – 9/30/82
Eric Edwards & Kay Parker – 7/12/84 (share a tile)
John Holmes -2/7/85
There are two blank/patched spaces, which match the dimensions of the other tiles, suggesting there may have been at least two more prints at one time.
The signature feature of this theatre is the freakishly large (by modern standards) lobby. The unit’s original department store layout, coupled with the relatively spartan design of a 90’s era megaplex, ended up creating a lobby that is reminiscent of an indoor sports facility.
Regarding the right side fountain terrywade wondered about. While the main fixture remains, the base pool was removed.
While the theatre is long gone, a “Gateway Theatres” labelscar and non functional led marquee can still be seen on a sign that stands adjacent to the northbound side of the 5 freeway.
The theatre really struggled with it’s location. In addition to being hidden in the back of the complex, patrons couldn’t utilize the motel’s parking lot; you had to park at a neighboring business and walk over to the motel. Tickets were $1.00 for the memorabilia museum or $2.00 for the museum and a movie.
The image is of the barbershop located inside the theatre.
Their recording states that they will be “temporarily closed”.
For many years, the Norwalk 20 was also AMC’s leader in hot dog sales. The theatre sold such an unusually high number of hot dogs that Oscar Meyer (AMC’s supplier) even sent out a couple of researchers to pinpoint the reason. I recall one of the researchers standing in various areas taking readings with some gadget that allegedly registered smells (I never heard what sort of conclusion they came up with).
I’m torn. While I hate the idea of the theatre being whittled down to three small auditoriums, I suppose that is better than seeing it closed and converted in to something like retail.
Beyond San Diego, this was AMC’s first megaplex in southern California and one of the early test sites for fine tuning megaplex operations. I remember quite a few managers being sent to Mission Valley for training as the company launched it’s first generation of megaplexes. For a brief time, Mission Valley was quite the cutting edge marvel (before operators over saturated the market and nearly every community had it’s very own 20+ screen “marvel”).