TCL Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard,
Hollywood,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Grauman's Chinese Theatre

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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 1,481 comments)

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 27, 2014 at 12:16 am

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: http://www.graumanschinese.org/1955.html

Coate
Coate on August 28, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Bigjoe59… There’s a lot of great detail in the Chinese presentations timeline mentioned in the above comment, but if you don’t wish to scroll through numerous pages of data just to locate the roadshows, then I can inform you the answer you’re seeking is: “Windjammer” (1958), “Half A Sixpence” (1968) and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968).

Source: 70mm in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles entry in the Remembering Cinerama series of articles.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 28, 2014 at 10:44 pm

to E. O. Norton and Coate-

many thanks for your assistance with my inquiry. as Norton suggested I looked at the theater website and clicked on “every film to play the Chinese”. and found that in addition to West Side Story and Hello Dolly the Chinese hosted 3 other roadshows-Windjammer, Half A Sixpence and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

a question for both of you. in the prime roadshow period of Oct. 1955 thru Dec. 1972 i have always found it interesting that whatever studio was involved would open a film on a traditional roadshow engagement in city but not another. for instance Cast A Giant Shadow opened on a traditional roadshow run at the Demille in Manhattan but opened on continuous performance at the Chinese. in reverse The Great Race opened on a continuous performance run in Manhattan but on a traditional roadshow run at the Pantages. i have always found that a odd way of doing things. what’s your take?

and for Coate-

i posed a question for you on the page for the Uptown in D.C. that i would greatly appreciate your thoughts on. its dated Aug. 5th 2014 2:16p.m.. thanks for your assistance.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 28, 2014 at 10:53 pm

The big roadshow house on Hollywood Boulevard was the Egyptian, though the Pantages also had its share of hard ticket events. The Warner Hollywood was tied up with Cinerama through that period. I think that Fox West Coast booked more roadshow engagements into the Carthay Circle than any other theater in the region. The Chinese was the circuit’s big first-run house.

One thing I recall about the Chinese is that at one point, I think it must have been during the late 1950s, one of the television stations in Los Angeles had a weekly movie that was hosted by Francis X. Bushman, and it featured a wraparound of Bushman talking about the movie from a seat in the Chinese. At the end of the closing segment he would get up and walk up the aisle of the auditorium. I hadn’t thought about that show in years. I wonder if anyone else remembers it?

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Hello-

I clicked on the link Coate included for 70MM in L.A. and clicked on 1968. that year the Chinese hosted two roadshow engagements. I was familiar with all the theaters on the 1968 list except for two- the 4 Star and The Fox Fine Arts. as in NYC the studios would occasionally book reserve seat runs into theater not traditionally used for such engagements. now the 4 Star which has been a church for many years is in the process of being razed. but I could find no mention of the Fox Fine Arts on this website. what name is it listed under?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 30, 2014 at 1:56 am

bigjoe59: They must be referring to what is now the Cecchi Gori Fine Arts Cinema. It’s in Beverly Hills. I’ve never heard of it having been called the Fox Fine Arts, and we don’t list that as an aka, so that’s why it didn’t turn up in your search.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 31, 2014 at 7:13 pm

to Joe Vogel-

I looked again at the 1968 page for 70MM in L.A. to make sure I hadn’t gotten the name wrong. but for the Oct.25 opening of The Charge of the Light Brigade it is in fact referred to as the Fox Fine Arts Theater.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 31, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Hello Again to Joe Vogel-

from the wording of your reply about the Fine Arts it appears you might be an administrator of this site. if you are a question for you-

the golden age of grand old movie theater building was approx. 1914-1941. now many of said grand old theaters built during this period were built from the get go as 2nd/3rd run neighborhood houses. the Castro in S.F. a perfect example. which brings me to my question. I created a project to see how many of said grand old movie theaters that were built from the get go as premiere 1st run venues have continued to operate as such since the day they opened. the only one I have been able to find is the Chinese. so is it really possible that of all the grand old movie theaters built 1914-1941 from the get go as premiere 1st run venues the Chinese is the only one in all 50 states that has continued to operate as such? very sad if that’s the case.

patryan6019
patryan6019 on August 31, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Bigjoe59…The Fine Arts is listed(uselessly as you have discovered)as Cecchi Gori F.A.Cinema. Go figure. Hope this helps.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 31, 2014 at 10:08 pm

bigjoe59: I’m not an administrator, but I’ve been posting here for so many years that I’ve probably come to sound a bit possessive about the site. To answer your question, no, I don’t know of any theaters in the United States other than the Chinese that opened before 1941 as first run movie houses and have remained first run throughout their history. Most of them were downtown theaters, and as movie attendance shifted to the suburbs starting in the 1950s the old palaces began closing one after another. The survival of the Chinese can probably be attributed to its location in Hollywood more than any other single factor.

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