TCL Chinese Theatre

6925 Hollywood Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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OCRon
OCRon on June 28, 2016 at 1:46 am

BBA Architects can be given credit for 2013 auditorium remodel and stadium conversion.

From the BBA (Blair Ballard Architects) website:
“In 2013, BBA completed the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX conversion and remodel in Hollywood, California, formerly known as the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It is arguably the most well known historic theatre in the world. BBA cinema theatres are considered to be among the most innovative state-of-the-art theatres in the United States.”

Coate
Coate on April 8, 2016 at 2:54 am

“The Bad News Bears” opened here 40 years ago today, where it enjoyed a successful eleven-week run. To commemorate the occasion, here’s my latest historical/retrospective article which mentions the run at the Chinese as well as hundreds of other theaters in which it played. Do take a look if you’re a fan of the movie or if you have fond memories of 1970s era moviegoing.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 23, 2016 at 10:39 am

The ad posted yesterday for “King Kong” failed to give a date, which was March 24th, 1933. Without that vital information, one might guess that it was the grand opening of the now classic movie. But “King Kong” actually had its world premiere in New York City three weeks earlier, on March 2nd, in an unprecedented two-theatre engagement at Radio City Music Hall and the New Roxy (supported at both by stage shows).

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on December 15, 2015 at 3:22 pm

So I was at the World Premiere of Star Wars last night and the presentation was flawless . Picture and sound were amazing . The seats are comfy but have and odd tilt when sitting . The rest of the theatre looked tired and not well maintained.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on December 15, 2015 at 2:29 pm

last night star wars held its world premiere that was live streamed by verizon on its website and on fios tv. tightened security as well as lots of fans, stars, and artists. Everyone seems to like it so far.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on October 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Hello-

regardless of the quality of the films being shown if the Chinese has in fact been a 1st run venue since the day it opened “neighborhood house” is not an applicable term is anyway. the fact the Chinese may have debuted a new film along with another theater or two in the L.A. area does not make it a neighborhood house. for New Yorkers a “neighborhood house” is a theater in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island that played a film only after it had exhausted its 1st run engagements in Manhattan.

Coate
Coate on October 7, 2015 at 5:18 pm

bigjoe59…. Perhaps “neighborhood house” wasn’t the ideal term to use, but, as member macoco has already (and nicely) explained, what I was referring to was the period of time when the Chinese, instead of exclusives, was running a lot of one-and two-week double features and day-and-date bookings with other Southern California theaters.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 10, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

I want to thank macoco again for the reply to my post. in your reply you may have hit on something that explains Coate’s comment. I and anyone in NYC during the period mentioned in your original reply would have classified a “neighborhood house” as a theater within walking distance of your home in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn or Staten Island that played a film after it had exhausted its 1st run bookings in Manhattan. as you stated I am equating “neighborhood house” with 2nd or 3rd run. I know I’m being picky but the term “neighborhood house” should be reserved for only those theaters in the time period you mentioned that played films 2nd or 3rd run. in Coate’s way to liberal interpretation of the term the Loew’s Capitol could have been classified as the “neighborhood house” for Hell’s Kitchen.

macoco
macoco on August 10, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Hello bigjoe59—that may have applied to NY and the RKO and Loew’s distribution, but Fox West Coast played first run films in various neighborhoods, in large part because of the spread of LA: downtown, Hollywood, mid-Wilshire/Beverly Hills, Westchester are all different neighborhoods. I suspect you may be equating “neighborhood house” with second-run (i.e. after first-run), which is how the two chains worked in NYC, dividing the market for films after they played Broadway first-run run, usually exclusively. But that was not how exhibition worked in every city. In the time referenced, the Chinese played pretty much to its neighborhood—Hollywood.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 9, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

i want to thank macoco for the detailed look at movie distribution in the 40s, 50s and 60s in L.A.. but as enjoyable as it was to read it still doesn’t explain why Coate referred to the Chinese as a “neighborhood house”. in NYC a “neighborhood” house in the same time period was a theater in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn or Staten Island that played a film AFTER its 1st run engagements in Manhattan. in other words wherever else a movie might have been playing its engagement at the Chinese was its 1s run engagement which disqualifies the Chinese from being a “neighborhood house”.

stevenj
stevenj on August 9, 2015 at 6:28 pm

I was looking for photos of Hollywood in the 30’s and 40’s recently and came across this wonderful website – Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photo Collection – which has 8 pages of photos of the Chinese Theater from construction to late 1970’s:

Chinese Theater

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 9, 2015 at 12:58 am

Thanks for the detailed post, macoco. I vaguely remember the day-and-date policy of the big chains in Los Angeles, but by the time I was old enough to pay close attention to which theaters were showing what, the big chains were being divorced from the studios. By the time I started going to movies on my own the Chinese had switched mostly to road shows, and all but one of the big downtown theaters were being run by Sherrill Corwin’s Metropolitan Theatres. Some were still first run houses, but the movies they ran were usually city-wide first runs, showing in maybe two dozen or more houses and drive-ins all over town.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 8, 2015 at 10:50 pm

Wow macoco! Thanks for the great post! Are you a member of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation? You sound like a great resource, or at least someone who knows how to get answers! Please email me at , if you are not on our mailing list I’d love to add you.

macoco
macoco on August 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm

In the 30s, 40s, and early 50s this was how Fox West Coast, the theater chain subsidiary of 20th Century-Fox, showed first-run films in its theaters in Los Angeles: the Chinese played first-run day and date with a downtown theater (the Loew’s State, then for a short time in the 50s the Los Angeles), a Wilshire Blvd theater (usually the Ritz but sometimes the Carthay Circle if it was not playing a roadshow exclusive run), and a Westchester theater (the Loyola), so that may have been what Coate meant. The Chinese was exclusive for a time after it opened, and then went exclusive again in 1953 some months prior to CinemaScope and The Robe. During the time in between, the Chinese and those other theaters would play an A picture from 20th or MGM or UA double-billed with a B picture, usually for the pictures' first week, and then the double bill would move over to another set of Fox theaters to continue the first-run. This was how The Wizard of Oz opened in LA, for instance. At some point in the 40s, Fox, which was booking Loew’s and UA theatres then too, set up a second first-run block, including the Los Angeles, Egyptian, and Fox-Wilshire, which then mainly showed MGM films starting in the mid-40s, leaving Fox films to the other set-up. Warners did something similar with its first-run films, playing them in its downtown house, Hollywood Blvd theater, and the Wiltern. RKO had only a downtown and Hollywood house, as did Paramount once it took over the old El Capitan and renamed it Hollywood Paramount to go with its big Downtown Paramount. There was also a Music Hall chain with houses downtown, in Hollywood, and Beverly Hills that showed some UA pictures and independents. Until the 50s, exclusive runs played the Carthay (sometimes along with the UA theater downtown) or Four Star, both in the mid-Wilshire district. Most first-runs were double billed and played in the multiple configurations I have described. All of this changed as the consent decree split the theaters, roadshows and exclusive first-runs became more common in LA, and the mix-and-match of day dated theaters in LA ceased to correspond so exactly to the theater chains.

I don’t know if that was what Coate meant, but this was the exhibition pattern in LA during those decades. Fox did something similar with its first-run theaters in Kansas City and also day and dated its downtown Denver house with a neighborhood one. When I am bored I read old issues of Variety and the LA Times, LOL.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on August 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Hello Again From NYC-

back in May Coate referred to the Chinese as a neighborhood house for much of its early life. now i have been perplexed for the past 3 months as to what Coate meant. as far as i have read the Chinese has been a 1st run venue since day 1. so my question for L.A. residents- what does Coate mean?

zangwill
zangwill on June 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Hi Escott O. Norton,

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

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on June 8, 2015 at 8:22 pm

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.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on June 8, 2015 at 6:54 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 8, 2015 at 6:42 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?

zangwill
zangwill on June 8, 2015 at 6:12 pm

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

Wahlner
Wahlner on May 31, 2015 at 5:40 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.

markinthedark
markinthedark on May 31, 2015 at 5:08 pm

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

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 31, 2015 at 4:55 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.

Wahlner
Wahlner on May 31, 2015 at 11:12 am

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

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 30, 2015 at 3:52 pm

The reconfiguration of the main auditorium of the Chinese Theatre for IMAX was designed by the Laguna Beach, California, architectural firm Blair Ballard Architects. There is one photo of the auditorium in the slide show on this page of the firm’s web site. Francis X. Bushman would barely recognize the place.