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Happy to help! If you just look at the walls and ceiling, I’d say closer to 80%. Including the many changes tot he seating the number would be lower.
Soon I will be sharing a great “tour” of what the Chinese was like on Opening Day, put together by one of the foremost Chinese Theatre historians. He has found some amazing photos!
Hi Big Joe,
There was a lot of concern about the most recent renovation, and the owners consulted closely with the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation and other preservation experts during the entire process. The biggest change was the lowering of the floor in front to increase the rake as well as the size of the screen. Lowering the floor essentially destroyed the basement and stage area. We did a behind the scenes tour just before it closed, so that area is well documented. The existing curtains were reused by simply adding a new section of fabric at the top. The original walls and ceiling were protected during construction preserved.
There have been many remodels before this, the biggest in my opinion was when the screen was widened and the 2 pagodas on either side of the proscenium were destroyed. That was way before my time, but I would have loved to see the pagodas. The other big change was the bottom of the chandelier being removed. Again, that was a while ago. There were previous changes to the rake of the seating, originally the seats started at lobby level and sloped down to the stage, but for most of my life there was a steep stairway at the back that people constantly tripped on as they were looking up at the ceiling. So in a way, the recent renovation brings the seating rake back closer to what Grauman built.
As far as what is left from 1927, the ceiling, the walls and side columns, the lobby murals and decor are preserved, the women lounge is original, and much of the behind the scenes office areas above the lobby are untouched. I’ve had meetings in Sid Grauman’s art deco office and it is like traveling back in time! Sid’s private box is also still there, and is used by VIPs. We have some post renovation pictures on our website at www.LAHTF.org and on our Facebook page.
My understanding is that the Chinese is the largest IMAX Theatre, based on seating capacity, not on screen size.
Because of prescheduled events both tonight and tomorrow, the Chinese Theatre' 90th Anniversary will be celebrated on Monday the 22nd with a VIP Event in the historic Forecourt. The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation will be a part of the event. www.LAHTF.org. Photos will be shared after the event.
The latest news on the Rialto Theatre is that the owners signed a lease with Mosaic Church. They have exclusive rights to use the entire building, My group, Friends of the Rialto, has been holding special events in the Rialto for the last 2 years with the owner’s support. We have presented a proposal to the church leaders to manage and program the Theatre whenever the church is not using it. We believe this is the best use of the theatre and will help bring the community together. For the latest, sign up on our mailing list at www.FriendsoftheRialto.org.
With the support of the Rialto’s new owners, Friends of the Rialto has now produced 2 fundraising shows and are in rehearsals for a fully staged production of Funny Girl with full orchestra. We also have an online fundraising campaign with the goal of bringing in enough in cash and pledges to take on the lease and restore and reopen the Rialto. Please visit my website for information on upcoming events, and a link to the fundraiser. We have lots of fun “perks” too!
We also did a community work day, getting rid of a lot of junk (don’t worry, nothing cool or vintage!). The goal was to open up space on stage to make it easier to produce our shows! Another work day will be scheduled soon, you can get on my mailing lists on the website too!
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!