The grand opening of the Grauman’s Chinese theatre is said to be one of THE grandest openings of any theatre in motion picture history. It is said to have been one of the most spectacular events to witness and was attended to by all the stars. The grand opening was on the 18th of May 1927. Thousands of people lined the grand Hollywood Boulevard and at one point, a riot even broke out at one point during the opening; where fans were surging forward, desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the stupendously idolised stars arriving for the opening. The film that was to be premiered that night was “The King of Kings” produced by a man named Cecil B. Demille and, as an encore, Sid Graumans’ “Glories of the Scriptures” was shown after. This was a live prologue and an organ and 65-piece orchestra provided music for it. The following day (19th May 1927) the theatre was opened to the general public.
Despite building theatres before, Grauman wanted to build his own dream theatre so he tried and succeeded to secure himself a long term lease on a property on the boulevard, helped by C.E. Toberman. Plans were developed by Grauman and a man named Raymond Kenny and, in January 1926, the theatre started to be built, with a cost of $2,000,000.
Eighteen months later the Chinese Theatre opened. Authorization had been obtained from the U.S. government to import temple bells, pagodas, stone Heaven Dogs and other artefacts from China. Poet and film director Moon Quon came from China, and, under his supervision, Chinese artisans created many pieces of statuary in the work area that eventually became known as the Forecourt of the Stars. The theatre is protected by 40 foot high walls and copper topped turrets, is 90-feet high and, inside the theatre, is the forecourt in which many relics of stars old and new can be found. In addition to this, 10 foot tall lotus shaped fountains can be found inside the gates. This creates a magical and intricate world showing the true value of the traditional Chinese theatre. Between the columns which hold up the roof is a 30-foot high dragon carved from stone. Also guarding the theatre entrance to this day; since day one, are the two original giant Heaven Dogs brought from China.
Grauman never actually fully owned the theatre, but held a one-third interest with his partners, Howard Schenck, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Grauman sold his share to Fox West Coast Theatres in 1929 and was the Managing Director of the theatre until his death in 1950.
The Chinese Theatre is the most phenomenal theatre in Hollywood for studio premieres. Fans flock to these events to see the celebrities arrive and walk up the red carpet into the theatre. The theatre is rich in movie tradition, with its cement handprints and footprints in front; the Chinese Theatre immortalizes the world’s brightest stars. More than four million people from all over the world visit the Chinese Theatre every year.
The Chinese Theatre was declared a historic-cultural landmark in 1968, and there has always been a restoration program in process to maintain the theatre’s beauty. Following the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake, geological experts were brought in to inspect the theatre and advise the owners with regard to protecting and strengthening the entire structure.
The Chinese Theatre will continue to be the preferred location for the industry’s most prestigious premieres for years to come. The Chinese theatre is a fantastic place to visit and will be a lot to take in, there is nothing quite like it and it really is a unique prospect.
picture from www.blastfromyourpast.com