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 1,560 comments)

hdtv267
hdtv267 on May 31, 2015 at 1:25 am

I concur with bigjoe. I fail to see the Chinese ever being a “neighborhood house”, If you have some evidence to the contrary, please do present it. I’m sure a lot of those who keep populating the comments on this particular venue would love to read those.

Wahlner
Wahlner on May 31, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I like to think that the Chinese holds the distinction for being the last of the 1920s film palaces to still be showing “First Run” commercial releases on a regular basis. “First Run” has become a somewhat slippery term in the last few decades, but the Chinese has always been a “First Run” theatre in the sense that they play films on their initial release.

From 1935 to 1953, the Chinese played many double features it is true, but always day-and-date with other theatres as “First Run” just as they do today.

The Fox Westwood Village Theatre is a very nice (!) neighborhood house, and played “A Free Soul” after the Chinese had the “First Run” in late June, 26, 1931, in a period when Grauman was on the outs with Fox West Coast Theatres, so there was no premiere or prologue:

http://www.graumanschinese.org/1931.html#free

I define 1920s film palace as having a stage, a pipe organ, and more than 2,000 seats. The Chinese had all of these. Hollywood’s Egyptian qualifies under these definitions, but I discount it due to the fact that it was idle for such a long period. How it has been remodeled or what they show there is beside the point. They show movies there still.

However, the Chinese reigns, I think, as the last of the Film Palaces to still be open, and showing commercial releases (however one defines “First Run”) every day. Well, most days.

Kurt Wahlner, Editor, http://www.graumanschinese.org

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 31, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

thanks to my fellow posters for their replies about the Chinese’s history. a number of grand old movies theaters built during the prime 1914-1941 period are alive and well. for instance the Castro Theater in San Francisco. the theater opened the last week of Sept. 1922 and has been in continual operation ever since but it was built from the get go as a 2nd/3rd run neighborhood theater. so apparently of all the grand old theaters built in prime period noted above that were built from the get
go as 1st run venues the Chinese is the only one that has continued to operate as such since the day it opened.

markinthedark
markinthedark on May 31, 2015 at 10:08 pm

Kurt – Nice site. Any plans on adding a little history of the demolished twins or the 6-plex?

Wahlner
Wahlner on May 31, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Dear Mark in the Dark:

Thank you for the juice. Every great old theatre deserves a web site like this one – but only the Chinese will get one!

Alas, I have no interest in the Chinese Twins or the 6 plex, worthy though they may be. There is only one Maltese Falcon!

I might some day, but I have to construct something on the forecourt first! Projectors are more interesting to me.

zangwill
zangwill on June 8, 2015 at 11:12 pm

Does anybody knows what’s the best seat for watching IMAX in the TCL Chinese Theatre?

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on June 8, 2015 at 11:42 pm

Hello From NYC-

does anyone know what Coate means by “the Chinese was a neighborhood house too for much of its early life”. any help would be appreciated. when was the Chinese ever not a 1st run venue?

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on June 8, 2015 at 11:54 pm

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
bigjoe59 on June 9, 2015 at 1:22 am

Hello-

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
zangwill on June 9, 2015 at 4:08 am

Hi Escott O. Norton,

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

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