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Goodbye to the Grauman's Chinese Theatre we know and love


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Not sure if there is a thread on this, but felt the need to start one because the agony is great.


As Robert Osborne pointed out at the last showing of this year's festival at Grauman's Chinese, we needed to look around after "The General" was done, because the interior of this great landmark was about to undergo renovation, which started May 1st.


Where moments before, he was applauded enthusiastically, the theater was filled with boos (not for him) when he said IMAX was taking it over. They will install their own screen and will put in grandstand seating and a digital projector, the latter of which will be replaced later by a laser projector system.


I know, I know. I can feel your outrage.


It will go from 1,152 seats to 986 seats.


The outside will stay the same, they say...but they will be having a new marquee on Hollywood Boulevard.


Next to the Hollywood sign, the Chinese Theater is the most famous location in all of Los Angeles.


It will re-open in September.


Here is an article about it from the L.A. Times:



Imax Corp.,once a peripheral player in Hollywood, is putting its stamp on the industry’s most famous movie theater.


The Canadian big screen theater company, which has offices in Santa Monica, plans to open one of its largest theaters at the former Grauman’s Chinese Theatre opened in 1927 by showman Sid Grauman, sources familiar with the matter said.


The deal, which is signed but subject to permit approval by the city, comes three months after Chinese TV maker TCL paid more than $5 million for the naming rights to the historic theater along Hollywood Boulevard, which now goes by the name TCL Chinese Theatre.



Representatives of IMAX and the Chinese Theatre declined to comment.



Imax plans to make the Chinese Theatre one of its main venues for holding premieres of big budget action movies. The new Imax theater will be 94 feet wide and seat 986 people, making it the largest in terms of seating capacity among more than 730 Imax theaters in at least 50 countries. It would be the third-largest Imax theater in North America, only slightly smaller than Imax venues in San Francisco and Lincoln Square in New York City.


Although Imax has two dozen theaters in Los Angeles County, including AMC Universal Citywalk, none have been large enough to host premieres, an important source of business for Imax.


Once best known for its nature documentaries, Imax has evolved into a major player in the exhibition industry, releasing about 35 films a years, mainly fan boy and action movies like “Dark Knight Rises” and the upcoming "Star Trek Into Darkness." The company, which has offices in New York and Toronto, has more than doubled the size of its theater circuit in the last four years, expanding rapidly in overseas markets such as Russia, Brazil and China, where it has relationships with most major exhibitors.


The Chinese, best known for its gigantic red Chinese pagoda and 30-foot-tall Chinese dragon and the cement foot and hand prints of famous stars, was declared a historic and cultural landmark in 1968 and is one of the most popular tourism draws in L.A. It hosted the Academy Award ceremonies in 1940s and has hosted numerous high-profile premieres, from "The Wizard of Oz" in 1939 to Warner Bros.' recent release "Gangster Squad."


The Imax theater is expected to open by September and with new stadium seating, as well as a new Imax sound system and digital projector, which will later be replaced by a laser projector system that Imax is adding to its circuit. The system, expected to be installed next year, uses patents that Imax acquired from Kodak and provides much brighter images and better color contrast than conventional digital systems.


Following a model it has used in other venues, Imax will sell its equipment to the owners and receive a percentage of ticket sales. The new theater is part of a series of renovations to the Chinese, including a new box office marquee on Hollywood Boulevard, financed by owners, film producer Donald Kushner and his partner Elie Samaha.


The men acquired Grauman’s nearly two years ago from previous owners Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures parent Viacom Inc., who, in turn, acquired the venerable theater after the Mann chain, which owned it for decades, filed for bankruptcy.


In addition to hosting premieres, the Imax theater will screen traditional Hollywood fare and may also show Chinese movies, potentially taking advantage of Imax’s ties with several Chinese exhibitors, including Dalian Wanda Group, which last year acquired AMC Entertainment, the nation’s second- largest theater circuit, for $2.6 billion.


TCL Group, which bought the naming rights to the former Grauman’s Chinese, also has agreed to sponsor a national and international campaign to promote Hollywood and the Chinese, using proceeds from its 10-year licensing deal to fund at least $5 million in improvements to the venue.








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According to a friend of mine who is a member of Hollywood Heritage, the interior changes to the Chinese will be minimal.


The screen will be bigger and the stadium seating will require the pitch to be changed but it has been changed numerous times over the years. They will take out the stairs that step down into the theater.


There are some ceiling lights that haven't been lit in over seventy years that will be relit.


The front of the theater will remain intact with the new marquee sounding much more intrusive than it actually will be. They are also keeping the projection booth and the projection system.


When Hollywood and Highland was being built in the early 2000s, Hollywood Heritage was the one historic preservation group that fought for the preservation and restoration of Grauman's. Because of them, the theater's interior and exterior was restored.


They are watching this very closely as is the Historic Theater Foundation and the LA Conservancy.


TCL is following federal preservation guidelines as well.


Here's a link to how the changes will look:



So, hopefully, next year when the TCM FF returns all we will miss will be the steps down into the theater.

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Well I for one have a dreaded feeling about this. Los Angeles, and by extension Hollywood, has a horrendous history of conserving historical and cultural landmarks; greased palms (I assume) are followed by statements about progress, innovation, remaining au courant, and jobs. The Cinerama Dome has been swamped by ArcLight; there is nothing left of the Ambassador Hotel-the Coconut Grove notwithstanding. And across the street from that, the tiny Brown Derby is barely visible on the roof of that late 80s eyesore that replaced it? And what happened to the one on Hollywood and Vine? Now I fear for the downtown movie palaces on Broadway.....nothing is sacred in this town...the little left here is not safe....Just this week, the unveiling of the proposal of $650 Million to revamp the perfectly adequate Los Angeles County Museum of Art, tearing out buildings barely 50 years old....I don't understand. And the LA Conservancy is a joke...they've caved in on high profile fights in the last couple of decades: the Ambassador Hotel, and St. Vibiana's Cathedral, to name just two. Sorry about my rant, but those that say it won't make a difference, well one at a time eventually means all. AND this is one of the reasons I love old movies, with views of LA when there were no freeways, City Hall towered over everything, and Bunker Hill was a real neighborhood.

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