TCL Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Grauman's Chinese Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Chinese Theatre is arguably the most famous movie theatre in the world. It opened as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on May 18, 1927 with Cecil B. DeMille’s “The King of Kings” starring H.B. Warner and a stage prologue “Glories of the Scripture” which had a cast of 200. Seating was provided for 2,200, all on a single sloping floor (apart from a private box located at the rear, to the left of the projection box overhanging the rear orchestra seating). The theatre was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual 17 ranks theatre organ which was opened by organist Frederick Burr Scholl, and accompanied the 65-piece symphony orchestra conducted by Constantine Bakaleinikoff. The Chinese Theatre has been the site of thousands of movie premieres and the destination of millions of tourists. Scores of celebrities have left their footprints, hand prints and hoof prints on the walkways near and on the theatre’s courtyard.

In 1973, Mann Theatres bought the Chinese Theatre. Two auditoriums, each seating 750, were added next to the Chinese Theatre, turning the theatre into a triplex operation from April 12, 1979. In 2000, the two added auditoriums were razed to make way for the construction of the Kodak Theatre — the new site of the Oscars.

In 2001, the original 1927 built Chinese Theatre underwent a renovation to return its exterior to its original design and Mann Theatres, in late-2001, also added an adjoining 6-screen multiplex theatre, designed by the architectural firm Behr Browers Architects of Westlake, CA. Seating capacities in the six new screens are: 459, 177, 177, 177, 177, 279.

Still opulent in red tonality and Asiatic influences, the main original auditorium of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre remains the ultimate movie palace experience, and now seats 1,162.

In August 2009, Mann Theatres announced they were planning to put the Chinese Theatre up ‘For Sale’, and it was sold to an independent operator in April 2011. In January 2013, the naming rights were sold to television manufacturer Television China Ltd., and it was renamed TCL Chinese Theatre.

The main original auditorium was closed at the end of April 2013. Renovations to turn the historic auditorium into a 986-seat IMAX theatre, with a 46 foot tall x 94 foot wide screen were completed on September 15, 2013 when the world premiere of the updated 1939 classic movie “The Wizard of Oz-3D” was screened on the giant IMAX screen.

Recent comments (view all 1,563 comments)

bigjoe59 on June 8, 2015 at 7:22 pm


to Escott N. thanks for your thoughts on the subject. but I am still a bit perplexed as to why Coate referred to the Chinese as a “neighborhood house in its early years”. to New Yorkers a neighborhood house is a 2nd/3rd run theater in the Bronx,Queens,Brooklyn or Staten Island that would play a film after its had exhausted its 1st run engagements in Manhattan.

zangwill on June 8, 2015 at 10:08 pm

Hi Escott O. Norton,

Thank you so much for your suggestions. I booked the middle one in row P. Hope it would be fine.

bigjoe59 on August 7, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

back in May Coate referred to the Chinese as a neighborhood house for much of its early life. now i have been perplexed for the past 3 months as to what Coate meant. as far as i have read the Chinese has been a 1st run venue since day 1. so my question for L.A. residents- what does Coate mean?

macoco on August 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm

In the 30s, 40s, and early 50s this was how Fox West Coast, the theater chain subsidiary of 20th Century-Fox, showed first-run films in its theaters in Los Angeles: the Chinese played first-run day and date with a downtown theater (the Loew’s State, then for a short time in the 50s the Los Angeles), a Wilshire Blvd theater (usually the Ritz but sometimes the Carthay Circle if it was not playing a roadshow exclusive run), and a Westchester theater (the Loyola), so that may have been what Coate meant. The Chinese was exclusive for a time after it opened, and then went exclusive again in 1953 some months prior to CinemaScope and The Robe. During the time in between, the Chinese and those other theaters would play an A picture from 20th or MGM or UA double-billed with a B picture, usually for the pictures' first week, and then the double bill would move over to another set of Fox theaters to continue the first-run. This was how The Wizard of Oz opened in LA, for instance. At some point in the 40s, Fox, which was booking Loew’s and UA theatres then too, set up a second first-run block, including the Los Angeles, Egyptian, and Fox-Wilshire, which then mainly showed MGM films starting in the mid-40s, leaving Fox films to the other set-up. Warners did something similar with its first-run films, playing them in its downtown house, Hollywood Blvd theater, and the Wiltern. RKO had only a downtown and Hollywood house, as did Paramount once it took over the old El Capitan and renamed it Hollywood Paramount to go with its big Downtown Paramount. There was also a Music Hall chain with houses downtown, in Hollywood, and Beverly Hills that showed some UA pictures and independents. Until the 50s, exclusive runs played the Carthay (sometimes along with the UA theater downtown) or Four Star, both in the mid-Wilshire district. Most first-runs were double billed and played in the multiple configurations I have described. All of this changed as the consent decree split the theaters, roadshows and exclusive first-runs became more common in LA, and the mix-and-match of day dated theaters in LA ceased to correspond so exactly to the theater chains.

I don’t know if that was what Coate meant, but this was the exhibition pattern in LA during those decades. Fox did something similar with its first-run theaters in Kansas City and also day and dated its downtown Denver house with a neighborhood one. When I am bored I read old issues of Variety and the LA Times, LOL.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 8, 2015 at 9:50 pm

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 , if you are not on our mailing list I’d love to add you.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 8, 2015 at 11:58 pm

Thanks for the detailed post, macoco. I vaguely remember the day-and-date policy of the big chains in Los Angeles, but by the time I was old enough to pay close attention to which theaters were showing what, the big chains were being divorced from the studios. By the time I started going to movies on my own the Chinese had switched mostly to road shows, and all but one of the big downtown theaters were being run by Sherrill Corwin’s Metropolitan Theatres. Some were still first run houses, but the movies they ran were usually city-wide first runs, showing in maybe two dozen or more houses and drive-ins all over town.

stevenj on August 9, 2015 at 5:28 pm

I was looking for photos of Hollywood in the 30’s and 40’s recently and came across this wonderful website – Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photo Collection – which has 8 pages of photos of the Chinese Theater from construction to late 1970’s:

Chinese Theater

bigjoe59 on August 9, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

i want to thank macoco for the detailed look at movie distribution in the 40s, 50s and 60s in L.A.. but as enjoyable as it was to read it still doesn’t explain why Coate referred to the Chinese as a “neighborhood house”. in NYC a “neighborhood” house in the same time period was a theater in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn or Staten Island that played a film AFTER its 1st run engagements in Manhattan. in other words wherever else a movie might have been playing its engagement at the Chinese was its 1s run engagement which disqualifies the Chinese from being a “neighborhood house”.

macoco on August 10, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Hello bigjoe59—that may have applied to NY and the RKO and Loew’s distribution, but Fox West Coast played first run films in various neighborhoods, in large part because of the spread of LA: downtown, Hollywood, mid-Wilshire/Beverly Hills, Westchester are all different neighborhoods. I suspect you may be equating “neighborhood house” with second-run (i.e. after first-run), which is how the two chains worked in NYC, dividing the market for films after they played Broadway first-run run, usually exclusively. But that was not how exhibition worked in every city. In the time referenced, the Chinese played pretty much to its neighborhood—Hollywood.

bigjoe59 on August 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

I want to thank macoco again for the reply to my post. in your reply you may have hit on something that explains Coate’s comment. I and anyone in NYC during the period mentioned in your original reply would have classified a “neighborhood house” as a theater within walking distance of your home in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn or Staten Island that played a film after it had exhausted its 1st run bookings in Manhattan. as you stated I am equating “neighborhood house” with 2nd or 3rd run. I know I’m being picky but the term “neighborhood house” should be reserved for only those theaters in the time period you mentioned that played films 2nd or 3rd run. in Coate’s way to liberal interpretation of the term the Loew’s Capitol could have been classified as the “neighborhood house” for Hell’s Kitchen.

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