Friday, June 17, 2005

The theaters on Hollywood Blvd. PART TWO

Fabulous Hollywood California is considered the capitol of the entertainment world. This means that Johnny Grant its benevolent dictator, Steven Spielberg is the Vice President, the guy who played "Pedro" in Napoleon Dynamite is the Secretary of State, Brendan Frasier is the President Pro Tem of the Senate and the man who voices Donald Duck is the cool private eye that all the ladies love.

It's no wonder than that Hollywood Blvd. has 88% more movie theaters per square mile than any street west of the Rockies and 76% more than any street north of Cobb County Georgia. Did I make up those statistics? You don't know, do ya? I dare you to try and prove me wrong.

Today we continue this article from about a year ago. Go take a look at it. It showcased the greatest operating theaters on the famed street. Those theaters are really a gem to see. For example, the famous Grauman's Chinese theater with its amazing architecture looks almost the same today as it did back in the 1920s.

Luckily THOSE theaters survived for all these years and with luck they will still be here 100 years from now.

Others weren't so lucky.

Today we look at some of the theaters that didn't survive. It's not hard to see why. When you enter a theater like the Chinese the first thing you notice is the size! Theaters like that generally boast one thousand or more seats. Way more than your typical multiplex. Certainly this SEEMS like a good thing (and believe me it is) but there is a reason theaters today have 20 small screens rather than 1 large one. Many movies come out every week, each appealing to a different audience. It is hard to get a small family to agree on the choice of a film, let along the entire movie going public.

This brings us to the first theater showcased today:

The Hollywood Galaxy - Wow! If Hollywood is its own Galaxy, that means Johnny Grant its benevolent dictator, Steven Spielberg is the Vice President, the guy... wait, did I already do this part?
The Hollywood Galaxy was built in the 1990s and was a big hit. It was a 6 screen multiplex built just a few steps away from the Chinese and almost immediately it began stealing away moviegoers from the Chinese and other movie palaces. Some of the older theaters had to close because of the competition, but eventually so did the Galaxy.
The theaters popularity fell just as quickly as it rose, mostly because the Chinese added a six screen multiplex next door to their mammoth auditorium.
The Galaxy still stands, but is currently closed. It is actually a pretty nice looking theater, similar to what you might find in an upscale shopping center. It sits next to the Hollywood Entertainment Museum (where you can find the Cheers bar!) and its sidewalk is adorned with the Walk of Fame stars of "The Simpsons" and "Big Bird."

Hawaii Theatre - Built in 1937 this theater was an ornate tropical oasis right in the middle of Hollywood Blvd. The theater featured a large Hawaiian mural over the marquee and inside a working waterfall and volcano kept patrons entertained as they waited for the feature. After about 20 years of operation the theater was sold to Salvation Army. They use the building as their Hollywood headquarters.
Still, if the guy who played "Pedro" in Napoleon Dynamite ever declares war on Salvation, this is the first place that will be bombed.

Vogue Theatre - A smaller theater by comparison (only 500 seats) this theater opened in the 1930s and was open for almost 60 years. The theater has a pretty neat marquee with the word "Vogue" spelled vertically down the front. Still, the theater was pretty drab and ordinary inside and was forced to close its doors in the 1990s. Recently it was used as a movie set for the movie theater scenes in Fight Club. It has also been home to a TV special for Spike TV.

The Fox Theater - Along with the Vogue Theater, this theater was owned by the Mann Corporation that also owns the Chinese. As they put money into the restoration and expansion of the Chinese they decided to close both of these theaters so as not to compete with themselves. Today they use this theater as a warehouse.
The theater was one of the first on Hollywood Blvd. opening way back in 1918. It had seating for over 600 and was then known as the Iris Theater.

The Hollywood Theater - Opening as a silent movie house in 1919, the Hollywood stayed open for many decades just a short walk east of the Chinese. In the 1990s it closed down and became the Guinness Book of World Records museum. Luckily the museum decided to keep the brilliant neon marquee, adding their name in place of the movie title.

Pantages Theater - I saved the best for last. One of the most ornate theaters EVER built, the Pantages even rivals the Chinese for sheer opulence. It also boasts a larger seating capacity (over 2200) and an equally rich history. The theater is located at the very end of Hollywood Blvd. right near Gower Street and the end of the Walk of Fame. The theater has a magnificent marble interior; it housed the Academy Awards and was once owned by Howard Hughes.
However, its vast size made it impossible for it to maintain business as a movie palace. Since the late 70s it has been home to live theater and in the 1990s new owners and a wonderful renovation made it the best place to see live theater outside of Broadway. The theater has recently hosted the Hollywood showings of hot shows like "The Lion King" and "The Producers.

It is nice to know that one of these great old theaters is still full of people on a Saturday night, still ringing with the sounds of laughter and still under the angry, watchful eye of the guy who played "Pedro" in Napoleon Dynamite.


  1. Boy, I barely even scratched the surface!I have yet to even mention the Pacific or the Henry Fonda Theater. Great stuff guys, I encourage everyone to make a trip to Hollywood at some point in thier life.

  2. I wonder if the ushers at the Chinese theater ever complain about being held back by the Mann.

  3. Anonymous6/17/2005

    Robble Robble Robble. When I first got out of prison in 1971, I got some clothes from the Salvation Army store in the old Hawaii theater. My prison issue $20 was enough for a couple of shirts and matching pants. Still had enough money left over for a Big Mac. It felt good to eat an honest burger for the first time since I before I was in juvie.

  4. Anonymous6/17/2005

    True story. The Pantages theater used to have sporting events. I was scheduled to box Kangaroo Jack there in 2001. Unfortunately, I learned that he was nothing more than CGI imaging and not real. Also, he had a rap concert later that night.

    Another 5,000 tickets refunded.

  5. Anonymous6/17/2005

    Hot dogs! Get your hot dogs here! Can't enjoy the movie in a theater that doesn't exist without a hotdog!