Chinese Theatre | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Corey Seeman on Flickr

Chinese Theatre

The Chinese Theatre reopened in September 2013 after several months of renovations that converted the iconic venue into one of the world’s largest IMAX auditoriums. According to the TCL Chinese Theatre website, the Chinese Theatre now contains the third largest commercial movie screen in North America. It also holds the distinction of being the only historic movie palace in the United States still operating as a first-run theatre.

The new owners of the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese), Donald Kushman and Eli Samaha, announced rehabilitation plans to convert the venue to a digital IMAX facility in early 2013, and the theater was closed for renovations from May 1 through September 19 of that year.

The project installed the latest technology and re-raked the auditorium floor (altered previously in the late 1950s and in 2001) to accommodate stadium-style seating. These upgrades will help keep the world-famous landmark a viable, single-screen theater offering first-run films.

Other upgrades included a new extra-wide screen and sound and projection systems. The 1927 theater is a designated Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM #55), and the owners have retained a historic preservation consultant.

Click here to watch a time-lapse video of the renovations.

The world famous Chinese Theatre has operated continuously as a first-run cinema since opening in 1927 and continues to play host to high-profile movie premieres. The theater underwent a $7 million renovation in 2000-01 that upgraded amenities, uncovered long-obscured details, and restored the exterior to its original appearance.

The Conservancy strongly encouraged a project that met the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. Proposed changes must be reviewed and approved by the City’s Office of Historic Resources to ensure they meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.