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Grauman's Chinese: basement backstage

6925 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028 | map |

The Grauman's Chinese pages: 
| Chinese overview | street views 1926 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | forecourt | lobby | lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | upstairs boxes and offices | booth | stage | basement | attic and roof | Chinese Twin | Chinese 6 |

The trap room before the 2013 Imax renovations: 

The stairs from downstage right leading to the basement. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A pre-Imax wide angle view of the trap room from the far upstage right corner. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF Facebook page - 2013

At left is the original stage height. The curved brick-colored "drop down" downstage (supported by the multi-colored columns) is the incursion into the basement for the 1958 Cinemiracle screen. The front part of the stage was removed with the front of the auditorium floor ending up about 7' below the stage level. A new auditorium floor slab was poured.

For the 2013 Imax renovations, the excavation was much deeper, to accommodate the 46' high Imax screen. Width wasn't a problem as the Imax installation wasn't any wider than the 100' frame installed in 1958.

Another view from upstage right looking across toward stage left. Off to the left we get a sense of the original ceiling height. The dropped down area straight ahead, curved to match the screen curvature, is part of the area lowered in 1958. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Upstage center with the stagehouse backwall at right and the 1958 Cinemiracle "dropdown" at the left. We're looking west across toward stage right. The diagonal brace is part of the 2001 seismic work. Note that extra plaster cast, presumably from the 2001 remodel, on the floor. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF Facebook page - 2013

Under the dropped down area of the stage, looking across from stage left. The ceiling in this part of the space was lowered during the 1958 renovations. The stairs up into the pit (long ago floored over) are on the left. What had remained of the pit after the 1958 renovation was dug out entirely for the Imax conversion. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A wider view from upstage left. The turquoise doorway at the left in the proscenium wall went to the musicians room under the pit. The steps just to the left of that center column with the XX were were one set of stairs to the pit. All the area we see here is under the portion of the stage that was lowered for the 1958 Cinemiracle installation. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF Facebook page - 2013

The left set of stairs to the long-abandoned orchestra pit. LAHTF's David Saffer is standing guard. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF - 2012

During the 2013 renovations: 

Digging out the basement during the Imax construction project. This June 2013 view taken from the backstage wall looks down through holes in what was the stage into the basement below. The shot is from Andy Oleck's superb "TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX Renovation - Time Lapse Video," a 2 & 1/2 minute condensation of the whole renovation on YouTube.

The steps in front of that pink and turquoise wall were once one of two entrances for the musicians into the orchestra pit. Beyond the wall some of the 1958 floor slab (and the orchestra pit underneath it) still remains to be excavated. At the top of the frame is the excavated former seating area at the front of the auditorium.

Another shot from Andy Oleck's video shows the beams supporting the stage completely gone as is the wall that was at the back of the orchestra pit. Still to be demolished is the curved wall that was the audience side of the orchestra pit. The front of the new auditorium floor is now at what had been basement level.

The trap room and adjacent areas after the 2013 Imax renovations:  

On the downstage right stairs, looking down from stage level. The concrete blocks and beam at the right are leftovers from 1958, when the front of the stage was removed and the floor at that location dropped down about 7' below the 1927 stage level. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The view back toward the stairs. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Looking upstage. On the left it's an electrical equipment room. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Houselight dimmers and branch circuit panels in the electric room. The main electrical service is now on stage, arrayed along the stage right wall. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The corridor to upstage right. The doorway at the right allows you to slip out between the curtains to the area in front of the screen. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Through the doorway and looking up toward stage level. The chain link fence is to keep one from falling into a triangular cut in the stage done in 1958 for the much bulkier curtain to travel offstage. The concrete beam runs parallel to the stage right wall. The black T-bar ceiling a bit above that level probably dates from the THX improvements of the mid-80s. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Peeking out from behind the curtains stage right for a view of the area in front of the screen that had been the orchestra pit and part of the trap room. The front of the auditorium was dropped down to what had been basement level during the 2013 renovations. 

On the left just before the end of the corridor to upstage right, some vintage kids wallpaper. Use of the now-vanished room that was in this area is unknown. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

You've arrived! The upstage right corner, where celebrities hang out before making appearances with their films. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

A look back down the stage right corridor toward the stairs. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

A wide angle view from the upstage right corner. At the left we're looking along the back wall to stage left. Behind the pink wall at the right it's the electrical room. The kids wallpaper is just around the corner from the electrical panel we see. Thanks to Wendell Benedetti for his great 2019 photo. For a pre-IMAX comparison, see the 2012 photo he took from the same vantage point.

Looking across to stage left. What was pre-Imax a wide open trap room became just a corridor once the screen was dropped down to basement level. The diagonal beam is part of the seismic retrofit work done in 2001. The gray door is one of several allowing access behind the screen. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

In the upstage corridor looking back to the "green room" upstage right. The transformer at the right has Cam-Lok outputs to power lighting equipment brought in for special events. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

A 1927 vintage floor pocket in the stage floor slab along the back wall stage right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The view deeper toward stage left. In the foreground is the motor and counterweight arbor for the top masking. The yellow plastic mesh up a level is what's left of the stage at the center. Beyond the gray wall in the distance is the compressor room. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The gear for the top masking. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019 

Stage left looking back along the back wall. In the foreground are motors for the side masking and the traveler. The door at left goes behind the screen. Above, it's what's left of the stage level. Hardly anything at the center, more survives at the sides. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019 

The top masking motor is the one nearest us. Beyond is the machine for the traveler with a spare unit sitting there at an angle. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Stage left, looking out from behind the screen. The device that looks like a spotlight is one of many Imax "screen shaker" transducers behind the screen providing a slight movement to reduce laser "speckle" artifacts. Thanks to Mike Hume for this 2019 photo and the others appearing on this page. For more of his great work see the page about the Chinese on his Historic Theatre Photography site. 

Looking up at the scaffolding that forms the frame for the screen. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Stairs up to stage level located against the back wall upstage left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Deeper into the stairwell upstage left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Off left toward the compressor and fan rooms. The door at the right is another to go behind the screen. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Looking back across to stage right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The compressor and fan rooms: 

At the stage left end of the trap room looking into the room with the AC compressors in 2012. The wall with the doors we're looking through was removed in 2013 and the room made smaller. The exit doors on the left lead you out into the basement labyrinth of Hollywood and Highland. Photo: Bill Counter

A wide angle view in early 2013 with the trap room visible through the doorway at the right. Thanks to Wendell Benedetti for his photo, originally appearing on the LAHTF Facebook page.

The stairs at the center get you to the fan room via the gray door to the left. The hollow tile infill across the top of the image dates from 1958 when much of the basement ceiling was dropped down during the Cinemiracle renovations. That area was removed during the Imax renovations and the compressor room made smaller and more soundproof.

A 2019 look at the new wall. Through the door and you're upstage right, in what's left of the trap room. Photo: Bill Counter

Transformers, electrical panels and storage in the northeast corner of the room. To the left of the garbage can we get a glimpse of a base for a Norelco projector, in use when the theatre still ran film. The exit doors to the Hollywood and Highland basement are out of the frame to the right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

The other side of the Norelco DP70 base. In front of it with the yellow X on it is one of the two motors that were on these early versions of the projector. One for 24 fps, one for 30 fps. Bill Counter - 2019

A Christie xenon lamp and two DP70 Norelco 35/70 projector heads, serial numbers 920 and 921, back in the corner. Bill Counter - 2019

The inside of the head that was most complete. Bill Counter - 2019

In the compressor room looking downstage. The path to the fan room is down beyond the spotlights on the right. The trap room and screen are beyond the new yellow wall at the right. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019

A view taken from near the exit doors on the east. After you head down the stairs and take a left you're pointed downstage toward the fan room. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019

Checking out the surplus lighting equipment. The green Fresnels are something left behind by Paramount Pictures. They were made in Burbank by J.G. McAlister Co. or Bardwell & McAlister. Thanks to Cat Lukaszewski for her photo, one of 30 in a TCL Chinese Theatre album on Facebook with views taken at the November 2019 LAHTF "all-about" tour.

Looking south into the fan room, located downstage of the compressor room. Supply air to the auditorium is going out the top of the fan. Return air dampers are straight ahead on the right. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019

Heating and cooling coils are at the left and, around the corner, air filters. On the floor we're looking at several sump pumps. Fresh air dampers are on the ceiling of the room above the sump pumps. On the far right are dampers in front of plenum tunnels drawing return air in from grilles on the back of the the side columns in the auditorium as well as other areas. Photo: Mike Hume - 2019.

Thanks, Mike! Head to his Historic Theatre Photography site for tech information and thousands of fine photos of the many theatres he's explored in L.A. and elsewhere. And don't miss his page on Grauman's Chinese.

Looking back toward the compressor room. The drive motor for the fan is straight ahead. Some of the original pneumatic controls are on the left this side of the doorway. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

1927 vintage pneumatic damper and temperature controls. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019

Basement miscellany: 

Scraps of old wallpaper upstage right. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF Facebook page - 2012

Another detail of the kids wallpaper upstage right. Thanks to Kimberly Reiss for her 2012 photo on the LAHTF Facebook page.

An old door in the basement. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF Facebook page - 2012 

A detail of the design work on one of the door panels. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - LAHTF Facebook page - 2012. Also on the page from Mr. Benedetti: doors and a painting | a construction item |

LAHTF's David Saffer inspecting various artifacts stored in the basement. The mannequin is one that used to be dressed in an elaborate Chinese costume and resided in a display case in the lobby. The gong was in the musicians room under the orchestra pit. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - 2012

A plaster cast of John Barrymore's block from the forecourt. The block was discovered during the LAHTF 2013 "all-about" tour of the building. Thanks to Don Solosan for the photo. On the LAHTF Facebook page he flipped it over for you so the lettering on the block is right side up.

The Grauman's Chinese pages: 
| Chinese overview | street views 1926 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | forecourt | lobby | lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | upstairs boxes and offices | booth | stage | back to top - basement | attic and roof | Chinese Twin | Chinese 6 |

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