Los Angeles Theaters Walking Tour (Self Guided), Los Angeles

Los Angeles is loaded with a great number of outstanding theaters. These theaters showcase outstanding performances and productions that you will not want to miss. Many of the theaters are now national historic landmarks. Take this self-guided tour to explore the amazing theaters in Los Angeles.
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Los Angeles Theaters Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Los Angeles Theaters Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Los Angeles (See other walking tours in Los Angeles)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: ashley
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • TCL Chinese Theatres
  • Dolby Theatre
  • El Capitan Theatre
  • The Egyptian Theatre
  • Pantages Theatre
  • Cinerama Dome
TCL Chinese Theatres

1) TCL Chinese Theatres (must see)

You will find TCL Chinese Theatres (formerly known as Grauman's Chinese Theater) on Hollywood Boulevard’s famous Walk of Fame, and you certainly can’t miss this unique building.

The theatre was given its Chinese design by Raymond M. Kennedy, while Jean Klossner created the forecourt. The building is in the form of a giant pagoda with a huge dragon in bas relief over the wonderfully decorated front doors. Tiny dragons are also featured on the copper roof, while two beautiful Ming Heaven Dogs stand guard on each side of the entrance.

The theatre was opened in 1927 with Cecil B. de Mille’s silent epic “King of Kings”, and has since been the choice venue for the premiere of many great films, including “Star Wars” in 1977. Its interior is decorated in red and gold, with Chinese art and statues, the red curtains in front of the screen have delicate golden trees and birds printed on them.

On the forecourt, you will see over 200 signatures, hand- and footprints, prints from Roy Rogers’ pistols and even hoof prints from Trigger! There are several stories surrounding the origin of the prints: Sid Grauman said he’d accidentally stepped in the wet concrete and he decided to invite superstars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (one of the theatre’s backers) to do the same. Today you can see the imprint of Harry Potter’s magic wand as well as those of Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, among others.

There is no charge to walk around and take photos – you only pay for the movie-going experience and the guided tour.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-12am
Dolby Theatre

2) Dolby Theatre (must see)

You will find the Dolby Theatre (formerly known as the Kodak Theatre) on Hollywood Boulevard in the Hollywood and Highland Center shopping mall and entertainment complex. Even though this might be the first time you have come here for a concert, you will have already seen this theatre many times on television over the past years. Don’t you recognize it?

Well, you would be forgiven if you don’t. Usually, when it’s on TV the shops on each side of it are delicately hidden behind swathes of red cloth and there is a long red carpet leading to the lobby, along which your favourite (and not so favourite) stars wave to huge crowds as they make their way to the front doors. The theatre hosts the Academy Awards Ceremony every year.

The theatre was built in 2001 by David Rockwell and sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Company, especially for the famous Oscars. It holds one of the largest stages in the United States, being 34 metres wide and 18 metres deep. The Award-Winning Ceremony has taken place here every year since 2002. The columns in the lobby all bear the names of the lucky Winners dating back to 1927.

On May 1, 2012, it was announced that the venue would be renamed the Dolby Theatre, after Dolby Laboratories signed a 20-year naming-rights deal. Dolby updated the sound system first by installing Dolby Atmos. The company plans to continue updating the auditorium with newer technologies as they become available.

The theater is rented to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for weeks before Oscar night. Having hosted the awards ceremony annually since 2002, the theater is best known for this event. As of 2016, the theater also hosts the live shows of America's Got Talent.

Why You Should Visit:
To admire one of the most elegant and sophisticated modern entertainment theaters in the US!
Guided tours are full of interesting facts and features, last approximately half an hour and are very frequent.

You can only book tickets on the day of your tour so plan ahead.
Tickets are booked on the ground floor box office.
Credit/debit card bookings will require a photo ID.
There are free restrooms on the first floor outside the Dolby.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10:30am-4pm
El Capitan Theatre

3) El Capitan Theatre

If you want to give your children a great treat during your stay in Los Angeles – or if you want to give yourself one for that matter – the best place to go is to the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

This movie theatre was commissioned by Charles Toberman in collaboration with Sid Grauman, a showman who had worked on two other theme theatres. This theatre had a Spanish Colonial Revival exterior and a beautiful Eastern Indian red and gold interior. It opened as a live theatre in 1926 and for over ten years some of the greatest artists of the time performed here, including Clark Gable and Will Rogers.

Towards the end of the nineteen thirties, audiences fell off and in 1941, after Orson Wells used the place for the premier of his controversial film “Citizen Kane”, the theatre closed for over a year. It was remodeled in “Art Moderne”, completely covering Sid Grauman’s original decorations and it reopened in 1942 as a movie house called Hollywood Paramount.

In the late nineteen eighties the Walt Disney Company bought the theatre and restored it to its original 1926 decoration. A magnificent Wurlitzer organ and hi-tech special effect equipment was installed.

Before enjoying one of Disney’s great films, the kids will love the show on the stage in front of the screen, featuring characters from the film they are about to see. The children will be transfixed which is a great change from having them fidget through long boring advertising spots.
The Egyptian Theatre

4) The Egyptian Theatre

Sid Grauman and Charles Toberman collaborated to create three theme theatres and probably the best one – if not the most famous – is the Egyptian Theatre.

The theatre was built during the great interest in all things Egyptian sparked off by the English archaeologist Howard Carter and his excavations in the Valley of the Kings and the building was given an Egyptian Revival façade with Egyptian paintings and hieroglyphs on the interior and exterior walls. Four huge columns were erected in front of the entrance and a fountain and palm trees were set in the forecourt.

The theatre opened its doors for the first time in October 1922 – just two weeks before Howard Carter found Tutankhamen’s tomb. The film “Robin Hood” staring Hollywood idol Douglas Fairbanks had its premiere here and was the only picture house where you could see the film for over a year. This insured a full house every day which helped to repay the massive investment Grauman and Toberman had put into its construction.

During the nineteen eighties and nineties the theatre fell into disrepair and was threatened with demolition. Luckily, Los Angeles was going through period where they preferred to restore historic buildings if they could find the funds. The theatre was sold to the American Cinematheque, a non profit-making cultural organization, for the symbolic sum of $1, on the grounds that they restored the building.

Today you can see a daily screening of “Forever Hollywood” an interesting, hour-long documentary film explaining the history of Hollywood. Several famous actors are interviewed and they tell us about their love for the film industry and Hollywood in particular. Throughout the year American Cinematheque organizes events including the film, television and video festivals that are very popular.

A lot of films have their premiere here and sometimes the star and/or director of a film will host screenings and are there to discuss the film. There are two screens and sliding walls open to reveal the old theatre before closing to create a hi-tech cinema.
Pantages Theatre

5) Pantages Theatre

One of the best theatres for live performances in Los Angeles is the Pantages Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

This wonderful theatre with its 2500 seating capacity and great acoustics was opened for the first time in 1930. Built in Art Deco design by B. Marcus Priteca, it was the last building commissioned by the great vaudeville impresario, Alexander Pantages.

Pantages was a very shrewd businessman; he knew that the “talkies”, as sound films were called, would soon mean the decline, if not the end, of live performances. This, he knew, was due to several factors: the sound in “talkies” was steadily improving; the price of cinema seats was less expensive than theatre ones and the films were action-packed, swash-buckling affairs designed to take people’s minds off the Depression that was spreading across the United States.

His theatre was therefore a mixture of movies and live vaudeville performances, therefore providing something for everyone. The building was also designed to give maximum comfort, with plenty of restrooms and lounges. The theatre operated with way for two years, until being sold to the Fox Theatre Company. From 1932 until 1977 it was exclusively a movie theatre. Howard Hughes bought it in 1949 for the RKO Theatre Circuit and had his offices on the second floor. Between 1949 and 1959 it was the hosting theatre of the Academy Awards.

In 1977 it closed as a cinema and after expensive remodeling it reopened as a live theatre. Since then it has staged many plays and comedy musicals, such as the Lion King and other Broadway hits. It is also a favorite venue for rock concerts and is often used as a backdrop in films.
Cinerama Dome

6) Cinerama Dome

If you are looking for a little nostalgia, not in your choice of movie, but in your choice of cinema, check out the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard.

This movie theatre, opened in 1963 is easily recognized by its famous geodesic dome consisting of 316 concrete roof panels decorated in 16 different geometric patterns. When the film “Shrek” was showing there, the dome was covered with a green sheath and two “Shrek ears” were added. During the showing of “Spiderman”, a giant model of the hero was set up on the dome.

The dome is 70 feet high, the auditorium is round and the screen has a 126° curve. The seats are really comfortable and the delicious pop-corn from the cinema’s snack bar is home-made. You are shown to your seats by an usher, who also announces the film. It’s like going back in time to the days when going to the movies was a real treat and the theatre staff was kind and helpful.

The futuristic sound system in DTS-6 boasts 44 surround speakers and a Kinoton projector is used for some 70mm films. Other films are shown in digital projection, or 3D, depending on the film. You can be sure to find a great film showing during your stay in Los Angeles, because of the great acoustics and the curved screen at lot of films are shown here first after their premier.

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