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 annual Oscar presentations.

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 1,620 comments)

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on March 26, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Does anybody have any photos or details about the original multiplex that was built to accompany this theatre? And how, historically, does that fit in. Were people irritated if they went to see a movie at the Chinese and they got stuck in the multiplex? Or was it just par for the course at the time?

Zubi
Zubi on March 28, 2018 at 5:22 am

Scott Neff – The Chinese Twin, as it was called internally within Mann Theatres (Chinese II-III in their directory ad) actually made the entire Chinese Theatres complex back then look much, much more impressive from the street than it looks today. Unlike the current Chinese 6, which is stashed in the back, the Twin was on Hollywood Blvd. and, more importantly, CONTIGUOUS with the original Grauman’s (Chinese I in the Mann directory ad). The place overall then looked and felt like a single, dynamic experience (not the case today). The II-III add-ons were also nice and large. So, no, one did not feel cheated by watching a movie in the II-III (though obviously seeing a movie in the original Grauman’s was best). Just so you know, the II-III often housed busier films because of contractual arrangements. For example, when my friend and I saw “Ghostbusters” for a midnight show at the Chinese in 1984, it was in the II-III—and completely sold out. Meanwhile, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” which had opened a couple weeks before and wasn’t that big of a hit to begin with, was in the original Chinese I with practically no one. I saw this happen more than once. Under Ted Mann, the complex then was also a classier operation with better showmanship. Mann staff wore expensive-looking, red satin tunics with Chinese dragons emblazoned on them. Mann managers wore tuxedos. Now, employees and management all wear whatever. The big theatre’s seating capacity then was more than twice what it is now (thanks to the IMAX retrofit and snack bar encroachment). While Laser IMAX is amazing, there’s simply nothing like watching a movie with two thousand other people. Back then, the Chinese was one of the busiest theatres in this country (even 4am shows sold out for tentpole films). Now, “Star Wars” movies can’t even fill the big theatre on opening weekends—and that’s with the reduced seating capacity. Finally, when you factor in the hawkers, hobos, and costumed characters that have exploded outside, it just ain’t as cool a place as it was in the day. BTW – pictures of the Twin are rare but I just googled and found one at http://graumanschinese.org/projection-3.html – just scroll down.

RogerA
RogerA on March 28, 2018 at 11:46 am

Let’s not forget the reason for building the twins. Star Wars was selling out and they were forced to move it to another theater for six weeks because of a previous booking arrangement. The twins solved that problem for future engagements. With the twins they could kick the dog into a twin and keep the big house for the blockbuster or a new release. All three theaters had Todd-AO 35/70 projectors. And they were a class act.

leowtyx
leowtyx on March 28, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Would you say Chinese is the only theater that shows IMAX Laser in 2D concurrently with 3D when there’s a 3D blockbuster movie?

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on March 28, 2018 at 6:22 pm

Zubi, thanks for the info on the II-III. When I first started traveling and taking pictures of theatres, I snapped a few shots of the lobby of the II-III after it was closed. Had I known they were going to be torn down I would’ve taken more.

They’re at the bottom of our page for it at Cinematour.com

https://www.cinematour.com/tour/us/2129.html

RogerA
RogerA on March 31, 2018 at 3:32 pm

I saw Ready Player One last night looked okay. Not enough base good show great theater. Some people like the 2D version some like the 70mm version and some like the 3D version. The only one the even comes close to filling the theater is the 70mm version in a SMALL theater at the Arclight. There are plenty of seats at the Dome in 3D and plenty of empty seats at the chinese.

leowtyx
leowtyx on April 1, 2018 at 9:54 am

Dome and Chinese has more bad seats, plus that’s not really a great comparison.

Different locations, different theaters, different times, different prices, different parking rates.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on April 1, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Did the guy who created the Chinese go to China before making this theater?

RogerA
RogerA on April 1, 2018 at 1:12 pm

I don’t think that Sid Grauman ever went to China he just built theaters. Sid built the Egyptian to cash in on the Egyptian revival craze started by discovery of King Tut’s tomb.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 1, 2018 at 1:37 pm

As far as I know neither Raymond Kennedy, chief architect of the Chinese Theatre, nor Donald Wilkinson, head architect of the firm of Meyer & Holler, with whom Kennedy worked closely on the project, ever visited China, but I’m sure Kennedy would have done some study of Chinese design for the project.

Although the theater’s details are Chinese, the building’s form is more European Renaissance, particularly the forecourt. A forecourt is not characteristic of Chinese design. Both Kennedy and Wilkinson were classically trained, and Kennedy was awarded a Diploma as a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, where he studied for three years.

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