TCL Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Manwithnoname on August 15, 2005 at 7:11 am

“Blazing Saddles” was released in July 1974 (at the Pickwick Drive-In with guests on horseback) and Earthquake was not released until November of that year. I doubt that the Sensurround equipment was installed early enough to be seen in “Saddles”.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on August 15, 2005 at 6:50 am

Bear in mind, there was no concession stand when the Chinese was built in 27. It came later. Then, for decades, it sat flush with its back wall against the booth wall, in the center of the lobby. Finally, when projection was moved back upstairs, the back wall to the projection booth was removed, and the concession stand now resides in what was the old booth.

trooperboots on August 15, 2005 at 6:33 am

The “large black structures” you speak of at the rear of the theater were the huge “Sensurround” speakers and sub-woofers installed for the movie “Earthquake” (1974). Both “Blazing Saddles” and “Earthquake” were made in the same year.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 15, 2005 at 6:22 am

The ticket booth is on the street, but it is now located in the new 6 screens building, built to the right of the main theatre. This has now allowed the original courtyard where that hand and foot prints are, to be totally ‘opened up’ as originally intended and as seen in original opening photographs.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 15, 2005 at 5:10 am

I watched the end of Blazing Saddles last night to get a good look at the Chinese, and I could see the shallow lobby and that the concession stand (“Raisinettes, please.”) was just a few feet away from the front door. I guess it has been moved after the booth went back upstairs. Also, in the auditorium scenes I could see some black structure in the rear, which I guess was the booth. The most amazing thing was that Gene Wilder was holding a popcorn bucket that said 35 cents on it; you couldn’t get the same size for $3.50 now!

Is the ticket booth still on the street?

Meredith, all is well.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on August 8, 2005 at 10:45 am

The present projection booth is back upstairs in its original location. There is no Cathay Lounge anymore. The booth is also very small now.

Originally, technology did not require much equipment. When the booth was downstairs, there were numerous projectors and sound dummies for running picture and track. Studio screenings require separate projection (picture) and sound (track) equipment that are synchronized. In many cases, the picture is a rough cut that has just been edited together by a film editor. Therefore, every time the scene changes, the picture noticeably jumps.

Back in the day, we would be handed 1,000 foot reels (10 minutes) to 2,000 foot reels (20 minutes) and make changeovers. In the case of 1,000 foot reels, you had to hustle to thread both picture and track in sync, then, rewind the previous two and tend to the carbon arc lamphouses.

Today, for just a regular presentation, the film is edited onto one platter. If doing picture and track, two platters; one for the picture and one for the soundtrack. Xenon bulbs have replaced carbon arcs, automation takes care of everything else and space is no longer a necessity.

Only on rare ocassion, such as with James Cameron and “Titanic,” will he insist that a regular full-time projectionist be there and manually run the presentation with curtains and lights between trailers and the main feature and ride the fader (adjust the sound) to achieve a wider dynamic range.

Hi Saps, how ya doin?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 2, 2005 at 11:30 am

saps; The booth is back upstairs now. The area in the rear orchestra downstairs (where the booth was for the last 40+ years) and the remainder of that seating area has now become part of an enlarged lobby and concession stand, achieved by constructing a new inner rear wall to the auditorium.

William on August 2, 2005 at 11:19 am

The late 50’s to the last major remodel a few years ago.

William on August 2, 2005 at 11:18 am

The Carthay Lounge was upstairs when the booth was on the main floor.

William on August 2, 2005 at 11:17 am

The Carthay Lounge was upstairs when the booth was on the main floor.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 2, 2005 at 11:15 am

Is the booth back upstairs now? When did the Carthay Lounge exist; was it during the time the booth was downstairs?

William on August 2, 2005 at 11:07 am

During the remodels of the mid 50’s and 60’s for different widescreen formats. The booth was moved to the main floor for better projection. At the Chinese, in the mid 50’s National Theatres “Cinemiracle” version of 3 panel Cinerama. And in the 50’s & late 60’s Todd-AO & D-150 over at the Egyptian. In the main room of the Chinese Theatre, the area which is now the booth. Was for VIP’s, it had two rows of seats in the center and two small other boxes to the right and left of the center. This area was called the Carthay lounge, it had a private snackbar and restrooms. The get to this area was through the managers office area near the men’s restroom side of the theatre.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 2, 2005 at 10:43 am

Thanks, Ken. Have you completed your recent cinema tour of the USA?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 2, 2005 at 10:40 am

All seating (originally the capacity was 2,058 in 1927) is on one level. Where the balcony would normally be located is the projection booth in the centre and two provate boxes either side of it.

The slightly smaller (1,771 seat, same architects) Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre along Hollywood Boulevard also had the same seating configuration as the Chinese Theatre.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 2, 2005 at 10:19 am

Nice photo, Chrles. Really red! But I am surprised there is no usual balcony. What is up there on the second level?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 2, 2005 at 10:02 am

I believe I visited this legendary theatre only once, on July 1, 1973, when the James Bond film Live and Let Die was playing. I just realized this place is number 1 on Cinema Treasures, as it may be understandably number one in many people’s affections.

BobT on August 1, 2005 at 5:49 pm

Everyone visiting Hollywood has to take in the Chinese at least once. When I was a theatre manageer in NY The Chinese management were kind enough to let me come and walk around. Later that week I watched from outside the premiere of “Beverly Hills Cop II”. A few years later I got to see what she could do when I went to see not yet Gov. Arnold in “Eraser”. The film wasn’t memorable but the presentation was. A huge screen and enough boom booms to satisfy. My last time there they were only starting the Highland and Kodak complex but my next trip out, it’s the first place I go.

teecee on July 17, 2005 at 7:35 am


There is a photo on page 191 of “Cinema Year by Year 1894-2004” of the opening night of King of Kings. “Last night the theater was the venue for a special premiere of director Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings before a select audience of 2,000. Outside, a crowd of 50,000 gathered.”

trooperboots on July 12, 2005 at 8:03 pm

TC, that’s a great night shot! I wanted to add that you can just make out the beautiful and stately HOLLYWOOD HOTEL just next door, in the trees. It was a beautiful hotel that was torn down 3 years after your photo was taken. Here is a photo of the hotel.

In 1937 there was a movie called “Hollywood Hotel” that takes place at the hotel with Dick Powell and Benny Goodman. It’s the movie that contained the famous Busby Berkeley musical number “Hurray for Hollywood.”

Today, the site is home to the Kodak Theater and Hollywood-Highland Shopping Complex.

View link

Thanks for sharing the great photo.

teecee on July 12, 2005 at 9:23 am

Great clear night shot:
View link

Caption: Grauman’s Chinese Theater at night with floodlights shining at the premiere of The Robe, first film made in Cinemascope, Hollywood, California, 1953.

Coate on June 29, 2005 at 9:26 pm

The Chinese was among the handful of theaters that was equipped with Cinema Digital Sound (CDS), the 1990-1991 precursor to the contemporary digital sound formats.

Doug23 on June 28, 2005 at 12:38 pm

I hope that everyone in California, if not the United States, appreciates what they have in the superb single screen cinemas in Los Angeles. May I just make a comment about Dolby v THX? In my younger days, I was involved in the audio business in the UK, and always used hi fi equipment to listen to my TV with obviously varying results. “Varying” because movies, my main interest, were recorded to Academy Curve, which emphasized the vocal frequencies.
Dolby, up to this point best known for noise reduction systems, entered the
movie sound business with, I think, “Lisztomania” by Ken Russell, because they could reduce noise, and thus the need for the Academy Curve was lessened. I.E. a flatter higher fidelity response could be obtained. Later, I believe for the film “A Star is Born”, Barbara Streisand version, rear channels were required. The only way of doing this previously was with expensive 6 channel systems on 70mm film, but Dolby rigged a system based on the old Sansui QS domestic quadraphonic system, which required only two channels to be recorded, which were processed to extract the centre voice channel and the rear effects. This was later modified and improved. Most people’s first noticeable exposure to the Dolby Stereo system was with “Star Wars”, the opening scene in particular being notable for the effect of the imperial cruiser approaching from above and behind. So, Dolby introduced a cheaper way of getting stereo surround sound into theaters and, soon after, into homes, and deserve more than the “just a noise reduction system” label.
Lucas was later dissatisfied with the performance of the sound systems being used in cinemas, and introduced the TAP, Theater Alignment Program, to certify those cinemas which were superior in their sound qualities. This later spread through the certification of equipment, both home and professional, with Thomas Holliman (?) being the designer. Hence THX, apart from jalopies and student movies, also coming from Thomas Holliman Xperiment.
Recently standing with the rest of the fans at the “Episode III” premiere in Westwood, I realized that “Star Wars”, the original, had changed the course of
my life, by taking the audio business towards the film business, this had stimulated my interest in film, and eventually lead to my current attendance of the UCLA School of Film and Television. Which has enabled me to visit the Chinese and all of the other magnificent theatres (sic —– I am English after all) in Los Angeles.

And, oh, if Sensurround did cover the frequencies suggested, down to 5 Hz, probably no sound system in use currently would reach down that far, luckily. 7 Hz at a high enough volume will probably shake your internal organs to bits.


Vito on June 23, 2005 at 12:53 am

I never saw Lucas, but he may have played a role in the Dolby installation at Cinerama. Someone, shocked at the engagement being presented in 35mm mono, went to the Cinerama’s owners, Consolidated theatres on Oahu, and convinced them to install Dolby.
Oh by the way Bill, I don’t think George would have sat thru his movie the way we were running it in 35mm with mono sound.
I did run a lot of movies for celebs in Hawaii, as well as private screenings at the home office screening room. Jack Lord (Hawaii 5-0) often held private Sunday morning brunch screenings for his celeb pals.

Coate on June 22, 2005 at 10:04 pm

You’re welcome regarding the article.

As for George Lucas fleeing to Hawaii to escape the “Star Wars” mania, this is often referenced as having been during the movie’s opening weekend. I’m no sure if that is correct as by several accounts they were still working on the sound mix on opening day. Plus, as I pointed out in the Hawaii Cinerama thread (/theaters/359/), Honolulu didn’t open the movie until its third week. By then, Lucas had probably already returned to the “mainland” as Hawaiians like to call it. But then, Baxter’s (error-ridden) Lucas biography places Lucas on Oahu during the movie’s release and claims it opened there the same time as the mainland. Whatever.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on June 22, 2005 at 8:44 am

Vito: Didn’t George Lucas flee to Hawaii to escape all the craziness when “Star Wars” first opened and the mania began? I think I read that somewhere. Hey, maybe you projected the movie with him in the audience? :)