Chinese Theatre

December 19th

I have only been to the historic Chinese theater once during a brotherhood retreat out in Hollywood in the middle of the night. It was one of those moments when you see something you’ve read about or seen on TV in person for the first time. What I find interesting about the theatre itself is that is adds to the weirdness of Hollywood. The architecture is as interesting as the people you find walking down Hollywood Boulevard. When you stand in front of the massive theater, you almost feel as though you’re famous too, sharing the spotlight with all the memorable celebrities that have made their mark there. From serving as a public first-run movie theater to premiering many of Hollywood’s best films, the theater will always be an historic and cultural landmark for Hollywood and the entertainment industry.


The history of the theater dates all the way back to 1922. It was built by a man named Sid Grauman who wanted to open another theater following the success of his popular Egyptian theater. The exterior is meant to resemble a giant red Chinese pagoda. It features a huge Chinese dragon across the face of the building with two Ming Dynasty Lions guarding the entrance to the theatre. Since its opening, it’s been the host of countless historical premiers including the 1977 launch of The Star Wars movie. It’s even hosted a few academy award shows. Recently, the owners partnered with the IMAX corporation to create the single largest IMAX auditorium in the world. Yet, the theater isn’t only known for it’s massive movie premiers. It is also known for the nearly 200 Hollywood celebrity handprints, footprints, and autogrpahs in the concrete of the theatre’s forecourt. People front around the world who visit the landmark will match their feet or hands to that of their favorite celebrity. These handprints, footprints and autographs represent the history of the theater in a big way, showcasing the countless celebrities that have made a huge impact in the entertainment industry as well as the culture of Hollywood and Los Angeles.


  1. Nissa Araque

    That sounds amazing! My parents say that I have apparently been there, but I was little and so I don’t remember if I actually did. After reading about the fate of the first Chinese in the McWilliams book, it fascinates me that there are not only so many Chinese people here today, but that we have so many Chinese-influenced things, from restaurants, to inventions, to entertainment. To me, the cemented handprints of celebrities in front of the Chinese theater is the second well-known representation of Hollywood, second to the famous sign itself. Like you said, the hand/footprints are a great way to show the many diverse people who have shared this stage.

  2. William Godbey

    Glad to read a blog post about this! I’ve always seen the theater as a representation of Hollywood. It certainly is a pinnacle to the design of Sid Grauman. I’d recommend checking out his Egyptian Theater as well. I will say that although the Chinese theater is magnificent, is does have the slight air the Heart’s Castle does, in the sense that it feels very Americanized and not authentic to the culture the design came from. This may not actual be the case, but just something that struck me as I read your post.

  3. Kathrine Schiller

    I saw Star Wars at the Chinese Theater on Christmas Eve and it was such a cool experience. The interior is absolutely amazing with two levels of seating and fantastic curtains covering the screen. It is indeed a great piece of LA history: an absolute must-see for anyone living in Southern California. I do agree with the comment above saying that the building is Americanized, but it is still a spectacular view.

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