UPDATE 4/15/13 – While IMAX has issued a press release confirming the deal at hand, the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation (LAHTF), a non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, restoring and sustaining the operation of Southern California’s historic theatres. has given the IMAX redesign of the theater its approval. According to Hillsman Wright, Executive Director of the LAHTF:
“IMAX! Great news for the Chinese. NO HISTORIC CHARACTER DEFINING FEATURES IN THE AUDITORIUM WILL BE AFFECTED. NONE. In 1958, the proscenium was demolished, the floor in front of the screen lowered and the current BIG screen installed pushing into Grauman’s 40′ stage – taking all of it but about 8′. The rake of the auditorim floor was virtually flattened. This is not the “stadium seating” of your local octoplex from hell. As was the case in 1927, when you enter the auditorium from the lobby, you’ll be at the same level as the back row of seats. At present, you must go down a flight of stairs to reach the seating. The seating will step down gently from the back row to just in front of the screen. The area in front of the screen will be excavated into the basment below, allowing a much taller screen and for the auditorium rake to continue.”
Los Angeles, CA, USA (April 11, 2013) — The Los Angeles Times reports on plans to transform the historic TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood into one of the world’s largest IMAX theaters, pending approval from the City of Los Angeles
“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.
“. . . 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.”
PHOTOS COURTESY TCL CHINESE THEATRES