TCL Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard,
Hollywood,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 31, 2014 at 2:08 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.

patryan6019
patryan6019 on August 31, 2014 at 12:01 pm

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

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 31, 2014 at 11:52 am

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.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 31, 2014 at 11:13 am

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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 29, 2014 at 5:56 pm

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 29, 2014 at 7:20 am

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 28, 2014 at 2:53 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 28, 2014 at 2:44 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.

Coate
Coate on August 28, 2014 at 11:14 am

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.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 26, 2014 at 4:16 pm

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

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Hello From NYC-

before I found this website I was unaware that this theater hosted roadshow engagements or reserved seat movie as me and my friends called them. to which my question. the period from the Oct. 1955 opening of Oklahoma to the Dec. 1972 opening of Man of La Mancha I refer to as the prime roadshow period. now during this period did the Chinese host any roadshow engagements other than West Side Story and Hello Dolly?

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Hello From NYC-

before I found this website I was unaware that this theater hosted roadshow engagements or reserved seat movie as me and my friends called them. to which my question. the period from the Oct. 1955 opening of Oklahoma to the Dec. 1972 opening of Man of La Mancha I refer to as the prime roadshow period. now during this period did the Chinese host any roadshow engagements other than West Side Story and Hello Dolly?

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 10, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Hi bigjoe59, I do think the Chinese and other theaters suffer from the wide releases. Within the Hollywood Blvd district they seem to avoid having the same movies in multiple theaters, but just hop over the hill to Universal Citywalk and you can see the same movies in the multiplex (I never do though!). Yes, there have been some big films that have attracted crowds, in fact Guardians of the Galaxy is a good draw right now. I’m pretty sure they don’t do discounted matinees, but not sure. I think the biggest thing that works at the Chinese is the premieres and special events. They block off the street and really do a great job.

One of the drawbacks of success with tourists is that the associated crowds and aggressive costumed characters scare away locals. I just talked to a guy who lives walking distance from the Chinese and he hasn’t seen the renovation because he doesn’t like dealing with the “circus” of the Blvd. (Very much like walking through Times Square!) I understand his sentiment, but will always take the subway and brave the crowds to see a movie in the Chinese.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 10, 2014 at 7:56 am

to Escott O. Norton-

thanks for the reply to my inquiry. to which I want to make sure I understand your reply. so are you saying that although the Chinese is now a state of the art IMAX theater following its Sept. 2013 reopening that it still faces the same problem as the Ziegfeld in Manhattan? a companion question. since its reopening have there been any “big” films that had almost sell out crowds? when the theater reopened last Sept. its new sound and projection was highly lauded by everyone. yet from the posting by the person who saw Catching Fire on Sun. two days after it opened the person was shocked the theater was at the most 20% full. to bad if that’s the case.

in Manhattan many theaters have discount rates for shows before 12 noon but the Ziegfeld is not one of them. so if a “big” film opens at a number of theaters in Manhattan that offer the discount rate I will see it at the Ziegfeld because while it may sell out at the smaller theaters I know no matter how critically lauded the film is the Ziegfeld will be at the most 25% filled.

CTCrouch
CTCrouch on August 10, 2014 at 3:44 am

As for the decorative standards: The current standards are replicas. The previous standards (which were replicas also) were auctioned off with the seats as a bulk lot. The company that purchased the seating lot was selling groups of seats, with decorative standards, on ebay, a few months back.

Silver: They conducted a significant remodel of the modern Hollywood Blvd. box office (there are a few pictures up). The older structure, which currently houses StarLine, would be a logistical nightmare to utilize as a box office, due to the courtyard tourism foot traffic.

Moviebuff82: all of the theatres are now stadium seating (modern 6 plex and classic main house).

LoveCinema
LoveCinema on August 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Thank you Escott O.Norton for explaining…and the link to photos.Looks beautiful…and all the other photos, too. Gave me another opurtinity to look inside the great work that LAHTF is providing for the Historic Theatres. Heard rumors about installing DOLBY ATMOS Sound System inside my favorite Theater? Hopefully this stays a rumor. Greetings from Germany

silver
silver on August 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Hi, speaking of the recent renovations, I thought I recall reading that the box office would be moving back to an earlier design in a separate structure (then occupied by a tour company). Did they do that?

One of these days I’ll get to make my first post-IMAX renovation visit…

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on August 9, 2014 at 11:51 am

what sound systems has this theater used since its inception? I bet all of them, from vitaphone to Dolby Atmos. As for projection, i guess they used everything from 16mm to 35mm to 70mm to digital projection. Do any of the theaters have stadium seating?

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 9, 2014 at 9:55 am

The reduction in seating was actually for a number of reasons. New red comfortable seats made for current patrons sizes are a little wider, and there were requirements for handicapped accessibility that required a cross aisle in the middle of the auditorium. One nice detail is that the decorative standards at the ends of the seats are historically accurate. Can’t remember if they reused the old standards or they are replicas. They look good though. Click here for a photo: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200821034544552&set=o.125430125723&type=3&theater

LoveCinema
LoveCinema on August 9, 2014 at 5:15 am

DonSolosan – well- I did notice that the 6 added screens are not inside the Chinese Auditorium.
What I meant was, because of converting the Chinese Theatre into an IMAX 3D reduction of seats had to be done. That’s what I feel a bit sorry about.
Have a nice day.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on August 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I was watching this week’s episode of “Drunk History” on Comedy Central and during an episode that made fun of the history of Hollywood they showed footage of the Chinese theater with the IMAX signs. Still looks great.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on August 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm

@LoveCinema — the six screens that were added are in a building next door to the Chinese. They didn’t impact the seating in the Chinese at all.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 6, 2014 at 10:19 am

Hi Bigjoe59, Yes, this can be a problem at the Chinese and other theaters in L.A. too. The whole first weekend gross calculations that seems to drive the wide release might be great for the studios but is not as good for the theaters in my opinion. Too bad since the exclusive openings of the past made for such special events! I remember many times in my youth standing in lines all night to see an opening on Hollywood Blvd!

I was just in Manhattan for the week long League of Historic American Theatres Conference and got to visit so many wonderful theaters, and really got a good sense of NYC. It was an amazing week! Didn’t get into the Ziegfeld but will make the effort next time. The trip was made even better by the wonderful tour guides we had as we explored the city via subway!

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 6, 2014 at 9:28 am

Hello From NYC-

in Manhattan the Ziegfeld is still in my opinion the theater to see a big action and or science fiction/fantasy film. this is for both sound and projection which brings me to my question.

no matter how critically well received a film might be and no matter how popular it is with moviegoers the Ziegfeld is never very full even at optimum times like Sat. or Sun. screenings. this is of course due to the fact that every action/science fiction/fantasy film opens on 2,000-3,000 screens on the same day. now I’m assuming no film which plays the Chinese will be playing in another theater in the immediate Hollywood area. but there is all of L.A.. so even with the recent upgrade at the Chinese does it in fact have the same problem as the Ziegfeld?

I remember last Nov. a poster mentioned he and friends went to a Sun. afternoon screening only two days after it opened of Catching Fire and the theater was at the most 20% full.

LoveCinema
LoveCinema on August 6, 2014 at 1:43 am

Dear Escott O. Norton,

Thank you very much for responding on my comment and thanks a lot for giving me information about LAHTF.org. I wish we’d more time back in the 8o’s to be able to visit one or two more of those magnificent Movie -Palaces. All I could do was passing the beautiful marquees and the huge buildings – wondering how it would look inside(?). Now I had the oppurtunity to view a few of the Palaces (gasping for air again). It really would have been a shame harming the beautiful interior of the “Chinese” whilst converting it to “IMAX 3D”. I am aware that the technical progress throughout the past years would shurely not stop outside this historic building. I followed the work that had been done on small movies like “TCL Chinese Theater Renovation Time Lapse” or read articles on the subject, also to be added 6 more screens. What a shame that seating reduction had to be done. Throughout the past years every single cinema over here had to face convertion from Original 35mm print into digital/digital 3D projection (not “Imax” of course, as buildings are mostly too small) .There was and still is no other choice.

Congratulations on this fabulous work you do. Wish we could have an Organisation like yours over here in Germany. Mostly these buildings “crumble” down, after undergoing a process of vandalism, until day of Demolitian. Mind you, the first Movie-Theatre in my hometown (build by my Great-Grandfather, opened in 1929, seating 600), is still standing(unused of course, but “up”).

The “Chinese” will stay my No.1 favorite Movie-Theater of all time. Wish I could experience it again.

Good luck and best wishes to you and your work at"LATHForg" from Germany