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TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood

TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood

Former Names: Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Mann’s Chinese Theatre

Website: http://www.tclchinesetheatres.com/ Open website in new window

Telephone: (323) 465-4847 Call (323) 465-4847

Address: 6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028 Show address in Google Maps (new window)

 Featured Photos

 Overview

The 1927 TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was Sid Grauman’s second Hollywood movie palace following the opening of the Egyptian Theatre in 1922, just down the street on Hollywood Boulevard. The Chinese Theatre has likely hosted the largest number of movie premieres of any venue in the world, having been a favorite since its hosting of Cecil B. DeMille’s “The King Of Kings” in May 1927.

Grauman employed architects Meyer & Holler to design the theatre, and it’s noted on the Los Angeles Theatres website Link opens in new window that Meyer & Holler had previous experience with Chinese-themed interiors at the West Coast Theatre in Long Beach, CA. Grauman spared no expense in furnishing his new movie palace and, according to the theatre’s website, special permission had to be granted to import various Chinese artifacts including temple bells, pagodas, and the 15th Century Heaven Dogs which still stand guard at the entrance of the theatre today.

The space Grauman had to build upon was large, roughly 150ft wide by 250ft deep, which allowed for an elaborate forecourt, spacious lobbies, an auditorium with seating all on one level, and a stage 40ft deep. In the spirit of “the show starts on the sidewalk”, patrons were transported to an exotic garden as they entered the forecourt before even stepping into the elaborately decorated interior of the theatre. The bronze roof of the exterior Pagoda structure rises up 90ft from the forecourt, and rests upon massive red columns topped by wrought-iron masks.

The theatre’s forecourt is full of celebrity handprints, footprints, and signatures, a tradition that carries on to this day and started when Norma Talmadge accidentally stepped in wet cement when Sid Grauman was showing her the new theatre while it was under construction in early 1927. Grauman realized that it would be a wonderful idea to invite the most popular Hollywood stars to leave their hand and footprints in cement in front of the theatre, thus immortalizing them for all time. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks provided the first hand/footprints and cement signatures at the theatre in April 1927, swiftly followed by Norma Talmadge at the theatre’s official opening on 18 May 1927.

The murals decorating the main lobby are by Keye Luke, a Chinese-American actor and matte painter for early Hollywood movies.

At its opening in 1927 the theatre sat 1,990, although numbers above 2,000 are often quoted. The theatre was originally furnished with a 3-manual, 17-rank Wurlitzer organ. Instead of traditional organ chambers and grilles located at the sides of the auditorium, the organ chambers were located in the ceiling with the sound emanating out of the many holes in the main ceiling fixture, the intention being that the sounds would feel like they were descending from the heavens. Grauman’s earlier theatre in Hollywood, the Egyptian Theatre, also featured organ chambers in the ceiling above the audience. The Chinese Theatre’s organ was removed in 1957. The organ was given to the Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles and much of it ended up installed at St. Finbar’s Church in Burbank. The organ console is now installed at the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto.

The theatre hosted the Academy Awards (The Oscars) from 1944 to 1946. Hotel ballrooms had previously hosted the Oscars, however when demand for attendance grew due to their popularity, the Chinese Theatre was selected as the hosting venue.

In the 1950s the theatre was a first-run house for Fox’s latest features filmed in Cinemascope, and the theatre was dubbed “Hollywood’s Home of Cinemascope”.

In 1958 the projection booth was moved downstairs to a location at the rear of the seating for screening movies shot using the Cinemiracle process. It would remain in this location until 2001. During this time the old projection booth space, above the seating, was used as a private box. The original maple wood flooring in the auditorium was also removed, replaced with concrete, alongside removal of the original 1927 Orchestra Pit.

In 1973 the theatre was sold to Ted Mann and became known as Mann’s Chinese Theatre, who added two adjoining cinemas (the “Chinese Twin”) on top of what had previously been a parking lot, in 1979.

In 1999 the Chinese Twin was demolished to make way for the Hollywood & Highland complex, which featured a new set of adjoining theatres called the “Chinese 6”. As part of this work, in 2001 the main theatre was renovated and re-seated with the projection booth being relocated above the audience level and a bar expanding into the previous projection space at the rear of the auditorium. Seating capacity was reduced to 1,151. At this time the name also reverted to Grauman’s Chinese.

In 2013 the theatre underwent a massive restoration including upgrading to IMAX. By burrowing through the auditorium floor into the basement and re-raking the seats the theatre now boasts a 94ft x 46ft screen, one of the largest IMAX screens in the United States, and the only IMAX theatre in the world with a curtain. Seating capacity is currently 932, down on previous capacity but affording generous legroom and stadium seating with a good width. There is a timelapse video of the renovation process here Link opens in new window. Current facilities include Laser IMAX and 70mm projection.

The TCL Chinese Theatre remains the preferred location for movie premieres throughout the world.

 Movie, TV & Music Video Appearances

Movies

Television

Music Videos

Documentary

Award Shows

 How do I visit the TCL Chinese Theatre?

The TCL Chinese offers two different tours:

  1. A short tour of the theatre lobby and handprints in the forecourt.
  2. A more in-depth tour of the theatre and public areas, including a short movie summarizing the theatre’s history and also covering the above lobby and forecourt areas.

Tours run 7 days a week excluding days when special events are scheduled. For more information and to book tickets check out the theatre’s VIP Tour website Link opens in new window, call them at (323) 463-9576, or email tours@chinesetheatres.com. Group rates are available.

Upcoming Special Events
Theatre Tour

Theatre Tour (Daily, various times)

The TCL Chinese Theatres Tour is the only tour in Hollywood where you learn the history of our cinema palace from inside and out. The Tour features stories and fun facts from the theatres beginnings to today, ranging from Hollywood premieres, to imprint ceremonies of your favorite celebrities in the Forecourt of the Stars.

So step off the red carpet and walk through the golden doors of this Movie Palace of the Stars on our exclusive 30 minute Walking Tour. A visit to Hollywood is not complete without this stroll through Hollywood movie history.

Tours are offered 7 days a week excluding special events. Please call for up-to-date availability (323) 463-9576 or email tours@chinesetheatres.com. Group rates are available.

For more info see: http://www.tclchinesetheatres.com/about-vip-tours/ Link opens in new window

 Further Reading

Online

Books

Historic Photos & Documents

Historic files shown here may be subject to copyright; review our “Fair Use” statement here.

 Photos of the TCL Chinese Theatre

Auditorium

Forecourt

Lobby

All photographs copyright © 2002-2019 Mike Hume/historictheatrephotos.com. For licensing and/or re-use contact me here.



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