L.A. Makeover As Grauman's Chinese For Sale

By Robert Marich
   Aug. 11, 2009 – Grauman’s Chinese Theater – the fabled movie palace in the heart of Hollywood with hand and foot imprints of Hollywood stars in its courtyard – is up for sale by Warner Bros. and Viacom/Paramount.
   A Hollywood Reporter article says the two studios intend to sell off piecemeal their Cinemerica theater circuit, of which Grauman’s is the diamond. The other valuable theater in the circuit is the Criterion in nearby Santa Monica, and there are other theaters scattered in Southern California.
   The sale comes as the exhibition landscape in Los Angeles is being remade. Cinemerica’s Mann division let leases expire at its now-closed National and Festival single-screen theaters in Westwood Village, which is adjacent to the UCLA university campus.
   “The refurbishment of AMC and Landmark multiplexes just south of the neighborhood and a couple of new Pacific openings to the east have drawn moviegoers away from traditional Westwood haunts,” notes the Hollywood Reporter article by Carl DiOrio. “As a mere leasee in its Westwood properties, Mann has been unable to push through its own conversions to stadium seating and other modern amenities. Declining traffic and limited parking in an aging retail district, combined with inherently bad economics of single-screen venues, exacerbated difficulties.”
   Grauman’s Chinese theater is an exception to the trend of single-screen palaces being obsolete, in part because it is situated in a thriving entertainment district.
  “Opened by Sid Grauman in 1927, the storied Chinese -- whose famous footprints out front increase, uh, foot traffic at the site -- was sold in 1973 to the late Ted Mann, originally an exhibitor in Minnesota,” notes the article. “For years, the site operated as Mann’s Chinese but returned to its Grauman's moniker in 2001.”

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Grauman's Chinese theater in the heart of Hollywood