No movie theater is more famous than the Chinese in Hollywood. Make that the TCL Chinese Theatre—the iconic 87-year-old movie palace in the heart of Hollywood was bought by the Chinese TV maker, causing some wags to call it the Chinese Chinese. It reopens today September 20 after months of renovations with a week-long booking of “The Wizard of Oz”, which happens to have had its 1939 premiere at the very same theater.
But the biggest news is how the new owners have improved the classic and theater while it was closed. Outside, not much has changed. The forecourt with its tourist favorite concrete footprints and handprints is untouched and the ornate exterior ornamentation has been just buffed and scrubbed.
Inside is what will catch the attention of film lovers. Though the interior décor is exactly the same—if cleaner and more vivid—the floor was dropped 90 feet to allow the installation of a huge screen measuring 94 feet wide and 46 feet high. The auditorium itself now has more steeply raked seating to allow better sightlines. And the new seats meet modern standards for comfort.
That’s not all. A partnership with IMAX has created the largest IMAX 3D theater in the world with 932 seats. The digital projection onto that big IMAX screen is superb. And the IMAX sound system—this Examiner counted 20 surround speakers alone—produces magnificent audio.
“The Wizard of Oz”, digitally re-mastered in 3D after 18 months of work, takes full advantage of all this. While the aspect ratio of the original 35mm film is unchanged, wasting yards of available screen space, the impact of this beautifully updated masterpiece is breathtaking. Dorothy’s ruby slippers never sparkled more and the Over the Rainbow never sounded so magnificent.
A spokesman said IMAX format films will be shown almost exclusively, though the theater has the flexibility to show many other formats. The next major films that will be shown (in 3D) there is "Metallica" followed by “Gravity,” the Sandra Bullock starring space thriller.
But this word for film buffs: Do not miss the “Wizard of Oz” during its short week-long run, the epic reproduction in 3-D will take your breath away.