TLC Chinese Theatre
Built in 1927 by theater operator Sid Grauman in Hollywood, California, the TLC Chinese Theatre is an iconic movie palace located on the historic Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. Also in front of the theater are footprints, handprints, and signatures of famous Hollywood figures (in concrete). Many movies have premiered here over the years, a tradition that continues today. The TLC Chinese Theatre also has the world's largest IMAX screen.
Backstory and Context
The Grauman's Chinese Theatre opened in Hollywood on May 18, 1927. Owner Sid Grauman had established himself as a successful film exhibitor by the time he built this movie palace. He owned many theaters including one in San Francisco and the nearby Egyptian Theater. He hired architect Raymond M. Kennedy to design the Chinese Theatre. The opening was arguably the most stunning in motion picture history; it attracted the most famous movie stars and celebrities of the day as well as thousands of people who were hoping to see the celebrities. Cecil B. DeMille's "The King of Kings" was the first film shown and the second was "Glories of the Scriptures." The opening was especially memorable because Grauman put on a live prologue which included a 65 piece orchestra. The next day the theatre opened to the public.
Before Grauman embarked on this project, he built the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles and the previously mentioned Egyptian Theatre a few blocks from the Chinese Theatre. However, the Chinese Theatre was his dream theater. Construction cost a total of $2,000,000 by the time the project was completed. Grauman had to receive permission from the United States government to import stone Heaven Dogs, temple bells, pagodas, and other artifacts from China. The designs for the theatre were overseen by Chinese poet and film director, Moon Quon. With Quon's supervision, Chinese artists created pieces of statuary in the theatre, which became the Forecourt of the Stars. Many of these pieces still decorate the interior of the theatre today. The forecourt, which is protected by forty feet high curved walls and copper-topped turrets, represents an oasis to the stars of yesterday and today. The entrance to the theatre is ninety feet tall with two coral red columnns, on the top of which are wrought iron masks that hold together the bronze roof.
Interestingly, Grauman never completely owned his dream theatre. His partners included: Howard Schenck, Douglas Fairbank, and Mary Pickford. In 1929, Grauman would even sell his share to Fox West Coast Theatres. However, he was the managing director of the theatre until his death in 1950.
The theatre is the most visited theatre in Hollywood for movie premieres. Many fans go to these events to watch the celebrities arrive and walk down the rep carpet. Over four million people from all around the world come to see the Chinese Theatre each year.
The City of Los Angeles declared the Chinese Theatre a historic-cultural landmark in 1968. The theater has its own restoration program to help preserve its original and unique beauty. After the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake, the theatre requested help from geological experts who inspected the theatre and gave advice to the owners on how they could protect and strengthen the building. The theatre would go through some major renovations in 2001 to enhance and update it. Also, several earthquake reconstruction methods were now in place to protect the theatre's structure.
On January 11, 2013, the Chinese TV maker TLC bought the naming rights to the theatre for $5 million dollars. The company, also known as "The Creative Life," wanted to raise its profile. The current contract between the two partners is to last ten years, and the goal is to make the theatre the most technologically advanced in the world.