Famed Hollywood Theater Morphing Into World’s Largest IMAX Venue

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre—site of countless movie premieres and three Oscar shows—has been given a high-tech makeover

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Movie premiere at Graumans Chinese Theater: Cars line up outside of Mann's Chinese theater in Hollywood, California. 1940s

The next screening of The Wizard of Oz in Grauman’s Chinese Theatre won’t prove quite as historic as the first one in 1939 (it was the movie’s premier, mind you), but it may be as monumental.

The famed Los Angeles theater—once Mann’s Chinese Theatre before turning into Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and, now, the TCL IMAX Chinese Theatre—will reopen on Sept. 20 and lay claim to being the largest IMAX theater in the world. That’s historic in so many ways.

Located in the heart of Hollywood along the neighborhood’s famed Walk of Fame, the theater closed down in May for the renovations. According to a story in SlashFilm, the new theater’s stadium-style set up will have 932 seats, the most in any IMAX venue in the world. The screen, measuring 90 feet by 46 feet, will be the world’s third largest.

To make room for this ambitious seating arrangement (which will mimic the shape of the old one), construction crews dug up to 15 feet into the ground, well beyond the depth of the original orchestra pit. The theater will retain and use the original curtain (with extensions to accommodate the larger screen) and will  be the only IMAX theater so outfitted.

The theater originally opened in 1927 to much fanfare, and became the site of choice for premiering high-profile films from The King of Kings to Star Wars. The theater also hosted three Academy Awards ceremonies.

Turning a famed venue into the height of modernity without losing the historic flare and appeal provided some construction intrigue, giving us this time-lapse video of the process. How fitting that this 85-year-old theater continues to dazzle with modern changes.