TCL Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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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.

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.