TCL Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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bruceanthony on August 27, 2005 at 12:20 pm

Theatre chains need to worry about above comments. Presentaiton is a key elemnet missing in many of our theatres across the country. The experience of going to a theatre must competed with DVD’S in todays world. In the old days bad behavior in a theatre wasn’t tolerated.brucec

GeorgeStrum on August 27, 2005 at 10:22 am

My apology to those who read my comments and were puzzled by the facts. The actual film I was referring to was BATMAN BEGINS . Sorry, I must have been so flustered by my experience I had forgotten the name of the film I saw or in this case didn’t see since I left well before the ending. People with stinky feet and cell phones should be banned from any theatre. Were was security or ushers to keep an eye on such nonsence, especially a place like Grauman’s!

MagicLantern on August 27, 2005 at 10:18 am

This theatre features prominently in the film “Fade to Black” (1980).

MarkNYLA on August 27, 2005 at 7:52 am

Stevebob: I absolutely remember the plastic mold machine; it sat on the extreme right of the forecourt (facing towards the entrance) next to the entrance of the gift shop. I last saw it in the early 1990s, but it has gone now. How I wish I had actually made one of the little pagodas on one of my many visits, now the opportunity is lost.

There’s something else that’s missing from the forecourt. Many years ago (in the 1940s, maybe), the theatre held a contest that would allow the winner, just any average Joe, to place his name and prints in cement just like the celebs did. The deal was that the cement slab would remain there forever, just like all the others. Eventually, of course, the slab was moved to an out-of-the-way spot waaaayyyy to the right, not far from the plastic machine mentioned above. I remember seeing it there at the same time I last saw the mold machine. Now, it has gone too. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the winner who was so immortalized, but I remember the words ‘contest winner’ were on the same slab with his prints.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 27, 2005 at 5:52 am

It’s just bats, man.

Coate on August 27, 2005 at 5:36 am

“I attended a showing of Batman Returns at one of the multiplex screens not the original theatre” (Valencia, Aug 27, 2005)

“If memory serves, and it does so less than it used to, ‘Batman Returns’ would have played when the twin was still next door and not the current 6 plex in the new center.” (Manwithnoname, Aug 27, 2005)

I saw “Batman Returns,” the 1992 entry in the movie series, on opening night in the Chinese’s original, main auditorium. So either Valencia is confusing one “Batman” movie with another or saw the movie after it had been playing a while and the print had been moved to one of the smaller screens next door.

Manwithnoname on August 27, 2005 at 3:01 am

I don’t remember the pagoda machine. Marineland had one that made sea animals and The L.A. Zoo still has some.

Manwithnoname on August 27, 2005 at 2:56 am

The last time I was in this theater (for Spongebob Squarepants) not only was the red curtain still there but it was torn. There are indeed tours between films and while we were waiting for the show to start tourists stood on stage and took pictures of the auditorium…meaning us. We are not part of somebody’s vacation and I didn’t appreciate the flashes going off in my eyes.

If memory serves, and it does so less than it used to, “Batman Returns” would have played when the twin was still next door and not the current 6 plex in the new center.

Yes, I do seem to remember the machine that made a keepsake out of a penny but back then many attractions had them including Marineland and Universal Studios when it was really about moviemaking and not a damn theme park.

GeorgeStrum on August 27, 2005 at 1:46 am

I attended a showing of Batman Returns at one of the multiplex screens not the original theatre which by the way is still glorious. The modern multiplex is like anyother multiplex in the USA rather boxlike and unimaginative but clean and comfortable. Yet my experience that evning was awful. A woman who sat behind me had the nerve to prop her shoeless feet on then top of the vacan seat next to me inches from my face. Talk about manners! I could have said something to her but was worried I would offend her race and gender. So to prevent another LA riot starting in the theatre I moved my seat. The next place I sat the person next me decides to take a cell phone call. I had it and left. The movie stank any way.

Meredith Rhule
Meredith Rhule on August 18, 2005 at 8:05 pm

I wonder why you are nobody in Hollywood until Hollywood Boulevard itself, between the streets of LaBrea and Highland, is shut down for your pix’s premiere? Could there be a reason why this theater has had more premieres than any theater in the US? Is it the red carpet, the press, the tv coverage (at least in Hollywood), the fans screaming from across the street on bleachers as the limos arrive or the spotlights streaking above the skys? Might this actually be the theater of the STARS' preference since 1927? Ummm… Could the Chinese be HOLLYWOOD?

Everyday that I went to work there, under by breath, I would say, “Good Morning Sid,” and “Goodnight Mr. Grauman,” as though the man was still there. It didn’t matter who the director, producer, star or studio was, my respect went to Sid, The ShowMan!

In my 20s, it was my dream to work there: In my 50s, my recolection is to reminisce.

01081956 on August 18, 2005 at 2:07 pm

Hey, in México city there is another Chinese: the ‘Palacio Chino’, but it looks very different indeed.

porterfaulkner on August 18, 2005 at 12:45 pm

Jim’s comments are always both informed and informative. I love the Chinese because it is an event, but it spent a very long time being badly maintained and a lot of its treasures lost or damaged. By the 1990’s it had really lost its lustre, having nothing much else but a famous name and a tourist attraction entrance.

The booth moved back upstairs about 4 years ago. The main chandelier is about 50% smaller than it was originally, but is once again lit. Hopefully the horrible red wool curtains on the screen and side walls have gone by now. Mann have spent a lot of money making it look special again but they could spend a whole lot more considering the rep this place has.

stevebob on August 18, 2005 at 12:18 pm

First, I have to say that I feel Jim Rankin’s comments above are totally on target in assessing the stature of the Chinese as a “phenomenon”. My feeling about the Chinese, and likewise the Egyptian, was always that their fame considerably exceeded their intrinsic merits as movie palaces per se. (Maybe it’s partly that I don’t really enjoy the movie palace experience unless I’m sitting in the balcony — an impossibility in both those theaters!)

Anyway, I saw A Star Is Born (1976) and Divine Madness (1980) at the Chinese. My recollection is that the projection booth was still at the back of the orchestra level then, that it looked like a tacky addition that didn’t belong there, that an aisle actually snaked around it, and that the presentation was marred by the beam being distractingly close overhead. If my memory is incorrect, someone please correct me.

When was the booth relocated to the balcony?

Also, on a slight tangent, I seem to remember that when I was a kid in the 60s there was a coin-operated souvenir machine that cast a miniature replica of the pagoda in a brown waxy resiny plastic kind of material. Does that sound familiar to anybody?

JimRankin on August 18, 2005 at 5:37 am

Knatcal is right that the Chinese is really famous for its history and longevity —along with the footprints, etc., in the forecort. It is certainly not the foremost movie palace architecturally in the Los Angeles area, and its fame is therefore not of that origin, contrary to that impression given in the VHS tape “Movie Palaces” put out by a cable TV network a fews years ago and reviewed and offered at With the LOS ANGELES, the ORPHEUM, and a host of others, the CHINESE is really more of a phenomenon than the epitome of a movie palace, and, in fact, its unique balcony arrangement really puts it more in a class by itself within the palaces.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 17, 2005 at 10:02 am

Do they have tours of the Chinese Theater? I was there two years ago and bought a ticket to “The School of Rock” mainly to see the theater like Knatcal did. The movie turned out to be very good anyway, but I’d hate to have to sit through something like “The Dukes of Hazzard”.

Knatcal on August 17, 2005 at 9:58 am

I grew up around Los Angeles but I have no memory of ever going to the Chinese Theater as a child in 1970s or as a teenager in the 1980s. I do however remember going to the Chinese Twin Theaters – to see what I cannot I remember – that were formerly located next to the Chinese Theatre. Even then I was curious about the Chinese Theater however I did not see a film at the Chinese Theatre until I saw “12 Monkeys” in the mid 1990s. I have since seen two other films here, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and very recently “The Dukes of Hazard.” On both occasion I saw the films mainly to see the theater. It is an amazing theater with a stellar past. However after going to many other classic movie palaces in Los Angeles that have ceased being regularly operating cinemas and are now used for stage theaters, special events or numerous other uses, I feel the Chinese Theatre benefits from its history, location and continuos operation to give it its larger than life mystique. The many other movie palaces around Los Angeles, and even in Hollywood, match the Chinese Theatre in opulence and grandeur. That is no means demeans the Chinese Theatre, which is an amazing movie palace, but places it in its proper place among a historic group of truly wonderful theaters with the Chinese being the only one to have never succumbed. And that is a grand feat.

JoeBunce on August 15, 2005 at 9:16 am

I’ve vacationed in Hollywood twice (I’m from Minnesota) and I made sure to visit and see movies at the Chinese both times. The first time, in 1988, I had one of the most unique movie-going experiences I’ve known. I saw “Memories Of Me” (starring Billy Crystal) there, and walked through the famous courtyard in order to see a film featuring a scene that was set in the very same courtyard I had just walked through…

Here’s hoping the Chinese will remain standing as long as Hollywood itself does.

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.