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Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation will be doing an ALL ABOUT Tour at the Highland Theatre on November 21 at 10am. The Highland Theatre has been entertaining the local community for 90 years, and is the last theatre remaining in the area. Designed by L.A. Smith, (who also designed the Rialto) and opened in 1925 as a vaudeville house, the Highland has a complete stage, dressing rooms and balcony, all have been hidden from view for decades.
LAHTF has been given full access, our ALL ABOUT tour will take you to parts of the theatre that the public hasn’t seen in years, and other places that have never been accessible to the public! Don’t miss this unique opportunity to rediscover a classic treasure! We are also thriled to be screening a special documentary: “The Highland Theatre: A Legacy Uncovered”, created and produced by the Highland Park Independent Film Festival.
For tickets and info: http://tinyurl.com/HighlandALLABOUT
LAHTF Members get $10 off each ticket! Click the REDEEM BENEFITS
and enter your email and name as instructed, your discount will be applied.
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
Actually, that was LA Magazine’s “spin” on it! I posted the pictures on my Facebook site and Chris Nichols asked to use them in exchange for giving Friends of the Rialto credit. He made most of the details up. There was no “panic” or “racing to the scene”, I was the one who was originally contacted by Modern Family and I put them in touch with the owners! The TV crew was very friendly and loved the Rialto, and I think the show was sweet. Here is a link to watch the epson online: http://abc.go.com/shows/modern-family/episode-guide/season-06/623-crying-out-loud
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, There is certainly more attention on the Chinese after the IMAX conversion, and even though the Avengers opened simultaneously across the street at the El Capitan (first time in history that the same movie opened at both theatres) I would venture to guess that it drew more crowd than the El Capitan (Another beautiful theatre, operated by Disney) I don’t have hard numbers though.
Like the Ziegfeld, there are other theatres within a few miles of the Chinese, including the Cinema Dome that is currently playing the same movie. I love the Dome, but between the 2 the Chinese is still a better experience.
As for actually percentage numbers, that would have to come from the TCL Chinese management. I can only comment antidotally based on what I see myself and hear from management. We don’t see exclusive engagements for the blockbusters here either, seems to me that is a thing of the past. Studios want big numbers of the first weekend, so more screens is what happens. The “cheat” to boost opening weekend numbers is to open the movie at midnight the day before the opening day, and some theatres are even adding earlier shows!
As for StarWars VII, no official word on where it will open, I HOPE it opens at the El Capitan AND the Chinese, since I saw the original movie at the Chinese. If that happens, Hollywood Blvd will be the best place to see it in Los Angeles!
It has definitely improved. And the Chinese is once again the premiere location for a studio premiere, they have events almost every week, sometimes 2 events in a day!
Cliffs, I am so glad to hear! I’ve been out of town so haven’t witnessed it for myself yet!
For those interested, I was allowed to witness and document the secret load-in night when the IMAX Laser projectors first arrived. It was quite an experience! Click here to see my Facebook album: http://tinyurl.com/LAHTFChineseIMAXLaser
Hockey Dude, please contact me at
Landmark Theatres singed over the remainder of the lease. I am not sure what the terms were, but they had made it clear to me that they would be happy to let go of it. They were not interested in continuing operations at the Rialto.
I have now met with the Owners of the Rialto a few times. They plan to start restoring the exterior and the storefronts as soon as possible, and will wait on restoring the theatre itself until a suitable tenant is found. Friends of the Rialto is working to bring in a quality theatre operator or a coalition of theater users. If anyone would like to be a potential user of the theatre, please contact me at
I am working to set up a meeting with Mr. Shomof to discuss his plans, and push for a proper and careful restoration and reactivation. Check in with my Facebook page: www.facebook.oom/FriendfsoftheRialto or sign up on my website: www.FriendsoftheRialto.org for updates.
The Vista is east of Hollywood, but still in the neighborhood. It has recently been given new life as a first run house, and has developed a loyal following. During my youth it was one of many great revival theatres that I would frequent. https://sites.google.com/site/hollywoodtheatres/vista
So BigJoe59, I guess the answer to your question is that the 2nd oldest theatre in Los Angeles built as a first run and still operating as such would be the Fox Village Theatre, opened in 1931. The Bruin across the street was opened in 1937 so would be the 3rd. Here’s a video made during our most recent Westwood theatre tour: www.youtube.com/watch?v=veX5sfunsw4
Yes, the amazing Rita Moreno! Unfortunately no connections there. I do know someone who just performed with Shirley Jones so I will ask him if he can ask her.
As for Wikipedia, I do not trust what I read there unless I can confirm via primary sources. That is why I mentioned the NYT article. Lots of inferences and assumptions. I would believe a studio making cuts to keep running time at a certain point though.
The TCL Chinese is one of the few theaters in the world to be premiering Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR in 70mm IMAX! Nolan is allowing theaters using film to open the film 2 days before digital houses. Reserved seats are on sale now: http://tinyurl.com/InterstellarChineseIMAX70mm
Good question. A classic Wikipedia assumption is that the scenes were never filmed, but the comment is based on a NYTimes article which only says they are not included, not that they were never shot! Who knows, maybe they were shot and they will someday be located! http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A0CE3D6143BE03ABC4151DFB066838D649EDE
There is precedent for this, with Wizard of Oz jitterbug number for instance.
Hey Big Joe, no need to get personal! I love the craziness of Times Square, was just there for the LHAT conference and had a great time! I am just hypothesizing about the reason such a beautiful theatre that is so easy to get to is not full more often.
In my opinion, one of the biggest differences between New York and Los Angeles is the ease of getting around on mass transit. We are just now getting a mediocre transit system and New York has had a great one for decades. We decentralized to the suburbs 30 years ago and it is an uphill battle bringing suburbans back to the historic centers like Hollywood and Downtown, where all of the best historic theaters are.
Things are changing for Los Angeles, we now have a fast growing downtown population, and Hollywood is also going through a huge growth spurt. I think we will see new life for our theaters partially supported by the new younger urban residents. That is part of the current focus of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, getting these new audiences aware of the theatres in their own new neighborhoods. We are working with the Chinese and other theatre owners on special events to raise awareness! www.LAHTF.org
BigJoe59, It is true that there are not sell out crowds on a regular basis. Personally, as a resident and frequent theatre goer, part of the problem is the “circus” atmosphere on Hollywood Blvd. I don’t mind the tourists, but I do not like pushing my way past the sometimes aggressive sweaty costumed characters. If you haven’t been here recently, think Times Square. Of course, that makes entering into the relative peace and beauty of the Chinese even more wonderful!
I think the other bigger issue with long time residents is getting back into the habit of coming to Hollywood to see a movie after years of going to suburban theaters. This will take time to change, and I think it will. It is surprisingly easy to get there on the Metro (subway) because there is a stop right at the corner. I can get on in Downtown L.A. where I live and be at the Chinese in 25 minutes without having to deal with traffic or parking! This might be normal in NY but for a native of Los Angeles this is remarkable, and a lot of people still aren’t used to it!
The Granada is for sale right now, and the realtor is trying to find a preservation minded buyer. contact:
Realtor – Historic Properties Specialist
RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists CalBRE #01957104
Here is the listing:
The owner’s son showed us around and even lowered the advertising curtain! We promised not to take pictures of it, but it is a real treasure! It is in amazing shape, well maintained and clean. The whole theatre is in good shape in my opinion. Let’s find a good buyer for it!
Hi Bigjoe59, Not sure if you know about this website, it is the best resource I know of for Chinese Theatre history. He has a very detailed timeline put together. Here is the 1955 page:
I do think the Chinese and other theaters suffer from the wide releases. Within the Hollywood Blvd district they seem to avoid having the same movies in multiple theaters, but just hop over the hill to Universal Citywalk and you can see the same movies in the multiplex (I never do though!).
Yes, there have been some big films that have attracted crowds, in fact Guardians of the Galaxy is a good draw right now. I’m pretty sure they don’t do discounted matinees, but not sure.
I think the biggest thing that works at the Chinese is the premieres and special events. They block off the street and really do a great job.
One of the drawbacks of success with tourists is that the associated crowds and aggressive costumed characters scare away locals. I just talked to a guy who lives walking distance from the Chinese and he hasn’t seen the renovation because he doesn’t like dealing with the “circus” of the Blvd. (Very much like walking through Times Square!) I understand his sentiment, but will always take the subway and brave the crowds to see a movie in the Chinese.
The reduction in seating was actually for a number of reasons. New red comfortable seats made for current patrons sizes are a little wider, and there were requirements for handicapped accessibility that required a cross aisle in the middle of the auditorium. One nice detail is that the decorative standards at the ends of the seats are historically accurate. Can’t remember if they reused the old standards or they are replicas. They look good though. Click here for a photo: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200821034544552&set=o.125430125723&type=3&theater
Hi Bigjoe59, Yes, this can be a problem at the Chinese and other theaters in L.A. too. The whole first weekend gross calculations that seems to drive the wide release might be great for the studios but is not as good for the theaters in my opinion. Too bad since the exclusive openings of the past made for such special events! I remember many times in my youth standing in lines all night to see an opening on Hollywood Blvd!
I was just in Manhattan for the week long League of Historic American Theatres Conference and got to visit so many wonderful theaters, and really got a good sense of NYC. It was an amazing week! Didn’t get into the Ziegfeld but will make the effort next time. The trip was made even better by the wonderful tour guides we had as we explored the city via subway!
Very exciting news for the Rialto, in June the owners decided to put the Rialto up for sale! After working for 27 years on getting the Rialto restored, there is FINALLY some movement! The owner’s representative announced that they were accepting bid proposals, deadline was July 16th. As an advocate for the Rialto I consulted with many potential buyers, and heard some very intriguing proposals.
The owners have been deliberating for a few weeks now, I have been told that the majority of offers were proposing to restore the theatre as a THEATRE, but until the owners go public with their choice, we do not know for sure who will be the new owner and what they are planning to do with this beautiful theatre.
I have been reporting what I can on the process at my Facebook page, and have some beautiful new photos there by my friend Hunter Kerhart. Please check there for the latest info and discussions: www.facebook.oom/FriendfsoftheRialto
Dear LoveCinema, Thanks for sharing your first time in the Chinese. I agree, it is a magical place! I have been going since I was a kid and I still feel a sense of awe when I walk in the auditorium!
Let me assure you that the changes that were made in 2013 did not harm any of the historic details of the theatre at all! In fact, great care was taken to protect the beautiful theatre. The new work was done with taste and it honors the original design. In fact, in some ways, it looks closer to the original than what you saw in 1982. The L.A. Historic Theatre Foundation awarded the Chinese with our Theatre of the Year award for the great work done to protect the Chinese.
I hope you have another chance to come to Hollywood and experience the Chinese, and while you are here, see some of the other gorgeous movie palaces in Los Angeles! We have so many treasures! Please visit our site for some pictures and information on events and tours: www.LAHTF.org