TCL Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 9, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

i want to thank macoco for the detailed look at movie distribution in the 40s, 50s and 60s in L.A.. but as enjoyable as it was to read it still doesn’t explain why Coate referred to the Chinese as a “neighborhood house”. in NYC a “neighborhood” house in the same time period was a theater in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn or Staten Island that played a film AFTER its 1st run engagements in Manhattan. in other words wherever else a movie might have been playing its engagement at the Chinese was its 1s run engagement which disqualifies the Chinese from being a “neighborhood house”.

stevenj
stevenj on August 9, 2015 at 6:28 pm

I was looking for photos of Hollywood in the 30’s and 40’s recently and came across this wonderful website – Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photo Collection – which has 8 pages of photos of the Chinese Theater from construction to late 1970’s:

Chinese Theater

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 9, 2015 at 12:58 am

Thanks for the detailed post, macoco. I vaguely remember the day-and-date policy of the big chains in Los Angeles, but by the time I was old enough to pay close attention to which theaters were showing what, the big chains were being divorced from the studios. By the time I started going to movies on my own the Chinese had switched mostly to road shows, and all but one of the big downtown theaters were being run by Sherrill Corwin’s Metropolitan Theatres. Some were still first run houses, but the movies they ran were usually city-wide first runs, showing in maybe two dozen or more houses and drive-ins all over town.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 8, 2015 at 10:50 pm

Wow macoco! Thanks for the great post! Are you a member of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation? You sound like a great resource, or at least someone who knows how to get answers! Please email me at , if you are not on our mailing list I’d love to add you.

macoco
macoco on August 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm

In the 30s, 40s, and early 50s this was how Fox West Coast, the theater chain subsidiary of 20th Century-Fox, showed first-run films in its theaters in Los Angeles: the Chinese played first-run day and date with a downtown theater (the Loew’s State, then for a short time in the 50s the Los Angeles), a Wilshire Blvd theater (usually the Ritz but sometimes the Carthay Circle if it was not playing a roadshow exclusive run), and a Westchester theater (the Loyola), so that may have been what Coate meant. The Chinese was exclusive for a time after it opened, and then went exclusive again in 1953 some months prior to CinemaScope and The Robe. During the time in between, the Chinese and those other theaters would play an A picture from 20th or MGM or UA double-billed with a B picture, usually for the pictures' first week, and then the double bill would move over to another set of Fox theaters to continue the first-run. This was how The Wizard of Oz opened in LA, for instance. At some point in the 40s, Fox, which was booking Loew’s and UA theatres then too, set up a second first-run block, including the Los Angeles, Egyptian, and Fox-Wilshire, which then mainly showed MGM films starting in the mid-40s, leaving Fox films to the other set-up. Warners did something similar with its first-run films, playing them in its downtown house, Hollywood Blvd theater, and the Wiltern. RKO had only a downtown and Hollywood house, as did Paramount once it took over the old El Capitan and renamed it Hollywood Paramount to go with its big Downtown Paramount. There was also a Music Hall chain with houses downtown, in Hollywood, and Beverly Hills that showed some UA pictures and independents. Until the 50s, exclusive runs played the Carthay (sometimes along with the UA theater downtown) or Four Star, both in the mid-Wilshire district. Most first-runs were double billed and played in the multiple configurations I have described. All of this changed as the consent decree split the theaters, roadshows and exclusive first-runs became more common in LA, and the mix-and-match of day dated theaters in LA ceased to correspond so exactly to the theater chains.

I don’t know if that was what Coate meant, but this was the exhibition pattern in LA during those decades. Fox did something similar with its first-run theaters in Kansas City and also day and dated its downtown Denver house with a neighborhood one. When I am bored I read old issues of Variety and the LA Times, LOL.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

back in May Coate referred to the Chinese as a neighborhood house for much of its early life. now i have been perplexed for the past 3 months as to what Coate meant. as far as i have read the Chinese has been a 1st run venue since day 1. so my question for L.A. residents- what does Coate mean?

zangwill
zangwill on June 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Hi Escott O. Norton,

Thank you so much for your suggestions. I booked the middle one in row P. Hope it would be fine.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on June 8, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Hello-

to Escott N. thanks for your thoughts on the subject. but I am still a bit perplexed as to why Coate referred to the Chinese as a “neighborhood house in its early years”. to New Yorkers a neighborhood house is a 2nd/3rd run theater in the Bronx,Queens,Brooklyn or Staten Island that would play a film after its had exhausted its 1st run engagements in Manhattan.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on June 8, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Big Joe, I’m not sure what Coate is talking about, a quick stroll through Kurt’s wonderful site shows that the Chinese has always been the home for premieres and 1st run engagements. Maybe Coate has an alternate definition for “neighborhood house”?

Zangwill, My favorites are the center aisle seats, top few rows of the lower section. I’ve also seen movies as far forward as the 4th row from the front. If you like to be close, I wouldn’t go much closer that the 4th or 5th row.

Last night I was part of a fantastic event at the Chinese. Cinespia and LA Historic Theatre Foundation collaborated on a special double feature of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 as a benefit for the LAHTF. We sold out the event, and the Chinese graciously supported the event from the very start, even closing off the Forecourt for a private party before and between the movies. Disney and the El Capitan were also very generous in making the event a success. I will post a link to pictures later.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on June 8, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Hello From NYC-

does anyone know what Coate means by “the Chinese was a neighborhood house too for much of its early life”. any help would be appreciated. when was the Chinese ever not a 1st run venue?

zangwill
zangwill on June 8, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Does anybody knows what’s the best seat for watching IMAX in the TCL Chinese Theatre?

Wahlner
Wahlner on May 31, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Dear Mark in the Dark:

Thank you for the juice. Every great old theatre deserves a web site like this one – but only the Chinese will get one!

Alas, I have no interest in the Chinese Twins or the 6 plex, worthy though they may be. There is only one Maltese Falcon!

I might some day, but I have to construct something on the forecourt first! Projectors are more interesting to me.

markinthedark
markinthedark on May 31, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Kurt – Nice site. Any plans on adding a little history of the demolished twins or the 6-plex?

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 31, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

thanks to my fellow posters for their replies about the Chinese’s history. a number of grand old movies theaters built during the prime 1914-1941 period are alive and well. for instance the Castro Theater in San Francisco. the theater opened the last week of Sept. 1922 and has been in continual operation ever since but it was built from the get go as a 2nd/3rd run neighborhood theater. so apparently of all the grand old theaters built in prime period noted above that were built from the get
go as 1st run venues the Chinese is the only one that has continued to operate as such since the day it opened.

Wahlner
Wahlner on May 31, 2015 at 11:12 am

I like to think that the Chinese holds the distinction for being the last of the 1920s film palaces to still be showing “First Run” commercial releases on a regular basis. “First Run” has become a somewhat slippery term in the last few decades, but the Chinese has always been a “First Run” theatre in the sense that they play films on their initial release.

From 1935 to 1953, the Chinese played many double features it is true, but always day-and-date with other theatres as “First Run” just as they do today.

The Fox Westwood Village Theatre is a very nice (!) neighborhood house, and played “A Free Soul” after the Chinese had the “First Run” in late June, 26, 1931, in a period when Grauman was on the outs with Fox West Coast Theatres, so there was no premiere or prologue:

http://www.graumanschinese.org/1931.html#free

I define 1920s film palace as having a stage, a pipe organ, and more than 2,000 seats. The Chinese had all of these. Hollywood’s Egyptian qualifies under these definitions, but I discount it due to the fact that it was idle for such a long period. How it has been remodeled or what they show there is beside the point. They show movies there still.

However, the Chinese reigns, I think, as the last of the Film Palaces to still be open, and showing commercial releases (however one defines “First Run”) every day. Well, most days.

Kurt Wahlner, Editor, http://www.graumanschinese.org

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 30, 2015 at 3:52 pm

The reconfiguration of the main auditorium of the Chinese Theatre for IMAX was designed by the Laguna Beach, California, architectural firm Blair Ballard Architects. There is one photo of the auditorium in the slide show on this page of the firm’s web site. Francis X. Bushman would barely recognize the place.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Hello-

I am a bit confused. I always thought the Chinese was built as a 1st run venue from the get go. after all it held the premiere of Demille’s “The King of Kings” May 18, 1927. so what does Coate mean by referring to the Chinese as a neighborhood theater during its early years? granted Hollywood is a neighborhood to the people who live there but that does not make the Chinese a “neighborhood” theater in the accepted sense of the term.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 25, 2015 at 3:55 am

The first movie shown at the Fox Westwood Village when it opened on August 14, 1931, was A Free Soul, which had premiered in New York City on June 2 and opened in other cities later that month.

Coate
Coate on May 24, 2015 at 5:07 pm

The Chinese was a neighborhood house, too, for much of its early life.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 24, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

I thank Coate for his input on the subject. so it seems that when the Village and Bruin first opened like the Uptown in D.C. they were essentially neighborhood theaters and only became “1st run” venues decades later. so it seems that the Chinese is the only grand old movie theater built in the 1914-1941 heyday that was a 1st run venue from the get go and has continued to operate as such since the day it opened.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 24, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

I thank Coate for his input on the subject. so it seems that when the Village and Bruin first opened like the Uptown in D.C. they were essentially neighborhood theaters and only became “1st run” venues decades later. so it seems that the Chinese is the only grand old movie theater built in the 1914-1941 heyday that was a 1st run venue from the get go and has continued to operate as such since the day it opened.

Coate
Coate on May 24, 2015 at 4:41 pm

I believe the Village and Bruin were, essentially, “neighborhood” houses during the initial decades of their existence. I don’t think they became “first-run” (depending on how one defines such) until the 1970s when the prime L.A. booking zones shifted from downtown & Beverly Hills to Hollywood & Westwood/Century City.

Cliffs
Cliffs on May 24, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Hmmm… that would certainly be a question for Michael Coate. He’d be the one most likely to know. Let me see if I can get him here.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Hello Again from NYC-

I thank Cliffs for the info on the Village and Bruin in Westwood. to which I have another question. if I understand your comment correctly the Village and the Bruin which opened in 1931 and 1937 were built from the get go as 1st run venues and have operated as such since the day they opened? the reason I ask is simple. I thought the Uptown in D.C. which is a 1st rum venue and been one since it opened in 1936. but it opened as 2nd/3rd run neighborhood theater and only reinvented itself as a 1st run venue with the dawn of the modern roadshow era in Oct. of 1955 with Oklahoma.

RogerA
RogerA on May 23, 2015 at 8:05 am

I wouldn’t call the Bruin a grand old theatre, old maybe but not grand.

I did go to see Interstellar in 70mm IMAX at Grauman’s Looked good the few scenes shot in IMAX. Those rails for the handicapped need to be lowered. And the only reason I went was because of the 70mm IMAX I am still waiting for a movie that is worth going to see so I can check out the laser. Why are they showing stuff shot or mastered in 2K? Arri has a new camera with a 65mm sensor that is higher res than 4K. These IMAX video films that are mastered or shot in 2k look horrible. The blowups from 35mm to IMAX looked bad too. I went to see an IMAX film at Universal when they had the 70MM it was one of the worst blowups from a 35mm (probably 3 perf) The grain and image quality was bad and inconstant some stuff was real bad and this was a major film with Depp. Oh yea the Cinerama film I saw recently had the same problem. Some stuff was shot in Cinerama but the action scenes were shot in Ultra Panavison. There was a big difference in quality. Henry Plitt said it best, “Blow up sh!t and you get big sh!t” I met him when he was testing Showscan at the Cinerama Dome. I can get 2K at home.

Saw How The West Was Won In Cinerama