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 1,590 comments)

RogerA
RogerA on May 22, 2017 at 11:58 am

Star Wars was moved to a Mann theater in Hollywood and not the Cinerama. Sorcerer did play in the Chinese because it was previously booked and they had to play it. Mann wanted to keep Star Wars so they installed 70mm in a theater down the street and played Star Wars there until they could get rid of Sorcerer. This incident is why they built the twins. So in the future they could move a movie that wasn’t doing good business to one of the twins and keep the big house for the hit. Once Star Wars was back in the Chinese it stayed there for a record run. The twins are long gone demolished for the Hollywood Highland redo.

Coate
Coate on June 19, 2017 at 2:35 pm

The Chinese was among just eleven theaters in the United States that installed the then-new Dolby Digital sound system for their engagement of “Batman Returns” which opened twenty-five years ago today. And here’s the link to a retrospective article that commemorates the occasion.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on June 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Hello From NYC-

I haven’t had the opportunity to visit L.A. since the Chinese had its IMAX redo, to which a question.

aside from the screen has anything in the theater
interior been changed that much. I am assuming it
has landmark status so that the renovation would
have been able to change just so much.

RogerA
RogerA on June 20, 2017 at 1:37 pm

http://www.tclchinesetheatres.com/portfolio-view/time-lapse-of-the-tcl-chinese-theatre-imax-renovation/ there was a lot done to the theater for the renovation

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on June 20, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Hello Again from NYC-

I guess another way of asking the question would have been this- while the exterior doesn’t seem to have changed much how much of the 1927 opening interior is left?

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on June 20, 2017 at 2:32 pm

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.

RogerA
RogerA on June 20, 2017 at 5:14 pm

There is a large concession stand where once there was seating and two columns have been removed.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on June 22, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Hello Again-

I want to thank Escott O. Norton for your detailed reply. it was quite kind of you to do so. a 3rd way of the asking the question. percentage wise how much of the original 1927 interior is left? 40% or less?

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on June 22, 2017 at 6:06 pm

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!

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on June 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Hello Again!:–)

to Escott O. Norton I thank you yet again. from all the talk following the IMAX redo I got the impression the interior had been radically changed. but if I understand your latest reply correctly the interior is 80% the same as when it opened May of 1927. that’s good to know that the IMAX redo didn’t do away with that much.

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