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 by the architectural firm Blair Ballard Architects 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 1,604 comments)

Danny Baldwin
Danny Baldwin on August 23, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Mark— It’s 1.90:1. When they ran INTERSTELLAR on 70mm there, they brought the curtains in to mark the sides for 1:43:1.

leowtyx
leowtyx on October 4, 2017 at 9:22 pm

@Escort Norton

That’s not the point of seeing Dunkirk in beautiful IMAX Laser, the point is to see it “as intended” by the director.

Which is IMAX 70mm (closest true IMAX screen is AMC Univeral Citywalk).

Also, you can’t blame a theater just because you didn’t reserve a good seat in advance.

Question for anyone:

I do watch other movies at Chinese Theater, especially those with 2.39 aspect ratio because its screen is closest to that ratio in LA.

Am I correct in thinking that? Or AMC Universal Citywalk would just Letterbox/mask their screen so I get the same experience even when the screen size will become smaller than Chinese’s?

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on October 4, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Hi leotyx,
I’m not going to get into a discussion about what IMAX is best other than to say that “true” IMAX means nothing because any theatre licensed to show IMAX is legitimate. Maybe call it “original format” IMAX if you want!

I’d also question “as intended” by the director. Certainly he knew it would be shown in multiple formats and was OK with that, or he would have pulled a Tarantino and only released it in IMAX 70mm. When I worked in the film biz we had monitors with multiple formats outlined so all information was captured for all formats. I’m sure Nolan did that.

My point was really to compare the architecture, the relationship of audience to screen. The theatre was almost empty, I could have sat in almost any seat, and I did more once. I stand by my conclusion that the steep rake and relationship of seating to screen at the Universal Citywalk is not conducive to watching a full length movie, at least for me. The seating relationship was designed for short event films, and is spectacular for that use in my opinion, but it doesn’t work for me for a full length drama. In the end, there is no “right”, it is a matter of opinion, and I expressed mine knowing I would get some pushback!

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on October 4, 2017 at 9:56 pm

Norton is saying that most of the seats at the Citywalk auditorium with 70mm have poor sightlines. Not a matter to be solved with seat reservations.

leowtyx
leowtyx on October 6, 2017 at 8:33 pm

@Norton

“lie-max” still means legitimate IMAX screens, just not the “big ones”, I thought it’s common sense? People do use “True IMAX” to describe “original format”.

Quote from Nolan: “I have been a longtime proponent of film – particularly the Imax film format – as a storytelling medium, the immersive quality of the image is second to none, drawing the audience into the action in the most intense way possible.”

I “actually” sat in multiple rolls and seats at AMC Citywalk and TCL Chinese to calibrate my viewing angle/distance, and I only reserve those seats. If I don’t get those seats, I don’t watch the movies.

I agree some seats are not good, but you did just dismiss the whole theater because of that.

@Hass

For True IMAX, You would have a poor viewing distance/angle at lower rolls no matter what. By reservation, I mean higher rolls.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on October 6, 2017 at 9:11 pm

You might try harder to spell. “Rows” not rolls. Haas not Hass.

leowtyx
leowtyx on October 10, 2017 at 4:16 pm

@*Haas

For True IMAX, You would have a poor viewing distance/angle at lower rows no matter what. By reservation, I mean higher rows.

Cliffs
Cliffs on October 11, 2017 at 6:13 am

I saw Dunkirk at the Citywalk 70mm IMAX and was surprised (sitting higher in the middle) that the bottom of the screen was cropped at the lower corners by railings and the floor. The screen is so massive it’s hard to notice unless you’re looking for it, but it’s happening.

The thing about the Chinese that makes me crazy is that god*$&m center railing that cuts down the middle of the front. If you’re sitting anywhere within the middle 8-10 seats for about the first 3-4 rows in the back half, that rail pops right up into the screen (and even on the center edge of row K). It’s a massive screw up in the otherwise beautiful IMAX conversion.

leowtyx
leowtyx on October 11, 2017 at 1:21 pm

@Cliffs

Citywalk: Yeah, and that’s understandable because the screen is actually 1.33:1 instead of 1.43:1, so cropping would have to occur (I sat in 3rd to last row).

Chinese: That’s what I hate too!!!

But it doesn’t really get onto the lighted up screen when the movie’s playing, if you avoid 1st & 2nd row.

I sat in 3rd row to see Blade Runner 2049 and it was at bay (but you do peek at it during the slow parts lol).

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on October 11, 2017 at 1:51 pm

I agree on the Chinese center railing. Unfortunately that is a building/safety code requirement. The only way to have avoided it would be not having a center aisle. My favorite seats are the last 3 rows of lower section, right on the center aisle, even with the railing.

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