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Egyptian Theatre: the auditorium

 6712 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028 | map |

The Egyptian Theatre pages: an overview | street views 1922-1954 | street views 1955-present | forecourt | lobby areas | auditorium | booth | backstage | Egyptian 2 & 3 / Arena Cinelounge |  

The proscenium of the Egyptian in 1922. It's a Mott Studios photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The California State Library and the AMPAS Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection also have versions.  You can also see it with a University of Virgina "Crossroads" chapter on Cinematic Contributions -- a discussion of the Egyptian theme in movies and theatres. 

A 1922 look across the house. Note the ornately painted traveler -- quite different than the curtain in the photo above. Here at the back of the main floor you think there's a balcony overhead if you don't know the theatre. Like at the Chinese, it's actually just the booth, some offices and several private viewing areas.

The photo appeared with "A Theater Designed in the Egyptian Style," an article by Frederick Jennings in the March 1923 issue of Architect and Engineer. It included a discussion of structural and mechanical systems design along with photos and a floorplan. It's on Internet Archive. There's also a version of the photo in the New York Public Library collection.

Meyer & Holler's ground floor plan for the Egyptian from the March 1923 issue of Architect and Engineer.   

Seating Capacity:
1,771 - originally -- all on one level
1,538 - after a re-seating in the late 40s
1,318 - following the 1955 TODD-AO renovations
1,340 - after the 1968 D-150 renovations
616 - currently -- plus a 78 seat theatre in space excavated at the rear of the auditorium

Proscenium and screen sizes:

1922 -  The proscenium was 41' wide. The screen size unknown. Perhaps 18' x 24'.

1955 - Some proscenium plaster was removed for the TODD-AO screen screen installation. The actual screen size is unknown. The assumption is that it was similar to the Rivoli in NYC: 27' x 66' and deeply curved. Across the chord: 50', depth of curve: 14'

1968 - The stage and the balance of the proscenium were removed and the new D-150 screen was pushed farther back toward the back wall. The screen size was 30' x 75', deeply curved. Across the chord: 63', depth of curve: 17'.

1998 - present - There's no proscenium and the screen is up near the back wall. The size of the flat screen is 27' x 53'.

Dressing rooms:
Originally in the basement and several floors offstage left.

Organ: A chamber on the roof that spoke via a tone chute leading to the perforated plaster of the ceiling sunburst. It's unknown when the instrument was removed.

Stage: Gone. The last of it was removed in 1968.  Presumably the orchestra pit was covered long before the 1968 renovations.

Grid height: 54'

Stage depth: About 25' originally from the asbestos to the face of the back wall. The exterior dimension of the stagehouse depth is 26' 11".  [The March 1923 Architect and Engineer article says "The standard stage is 30 x 73 1/2 feet..." That 30' measurement would actually have put you in the middle of the orchestra pit.]

Stage wall to wall: About 71' clear originally. The exterior dimension of the stagehouse width is 73" 9 1/2".

A closer look at the stage and pit from the Architect and Engineer plan.

A look across from house left. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Presumably that's the theatre's asbestos curtain we see. The photo is also in the USC Digital Library collection in a version from a publication that listed many of the contractors and suppliers underneath. It's also one of many photos in the March 1923 article about the Egyptian in Architect and Engineer.

A rare proscenium postcard of the Egyptian from Brian Michael McCray's Hollywood Postcards collection. His 400+ cards used to be on Picasa until Google decided to "retire" that platform. Thanks, Brian! Presumably the scenery we're seeing is from one of the Grauman prologues.

A great detail view from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives of the theatre's proscenium. The photo appeared on the now-vanished website which had a history of the renovation process. 

A 1922 Mott Studios detail of the sidewall treatment and the singer's box house right near the proscenium. It's in the California State Library collection.  

A Mott Studios detail focused on that figure just to the left of the singer's box. It's in the California State Library collection.  

A Mott Studios look at the auditorium sidewall and the singer's box. It's in the California State Library collection. 

A 1922 Mott Studios photo of the rear of the auditorium from the California State Library collection.

A closer look at that figure on the side wall -- and the Egyptian style fire hose cabinet. It's an undated photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Perhaps in the 40s? Things are looking a bit worn.

A pre-opening photo of the rear of the auditorium from the newspaper Holly Leaves appearing on October 27, 1922. The caption read "Interior view Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre - Where Douglas Fairbanks in 'Robin Hood' begins third week next Monday."  "Robin Hood" was the theatre's opening film. It looks like the photo was taken when they were still working on the seats -- note the extension cords in the center aisle.

The photo is featured in a post by Cezar Del Valle on the Theatre Talks blog about the Opening of the Egyptian Theatre. The post also features an ad for "Robin Hood." Thanks, Cezar!

A 1922 view from onstage. Note how far the seating goes back under the booth. All of that area has been converted into badly needed lobby space. Photo: Los Angeles Public Library

The photo from onstage also made an appearance in an ad for American Seating Company in the March 14, 1923 issue of Motion Picture News. Thanks to Jean Hunter for the find. She added the item as a comment to a "Don Juan" premiere photo posted by Richard Adkins on the Hollywood Heritage Facebook page.

A slightly different look toward the rear of the auditorium. It's a photo from the March 1923 Architect and Engineer article, available on Internet Archive.  Note the open standee area at the rear of the auditorium -- later walled off as a separate lobby space.

A sidewall view, perhaps c.1953. There's a surround speaker in place but we still have all of the proscenium plaster. Photographer and source are unknown.

A c.1954 photo by Harold Allen that appears on an SFO Museum page for a 2015 exhibition of Mr. Allen's photos of Egyptian Revival architecture. The photo is one of twelve on the page, but the only one of this theatre. It's from the Ryerson & Burnham Archives, Harold Allen Egyptomania Collection, Art Institute of Chicago.

Note here we have upgraded to larger surround speakers compared to the view above. Shortly after the photo was taken, much of the proscenium was covered with the 1955 installation of the deeply curved TODD-AO screen. The removal of some of the proscenium arch was done at that time. There was more demo for the 75' Dimension-150 screen installation in 1968.

The TODD-AO screen at the Egyptian Theatre installed in 1955 for "Oklahoma." The photo is from the Robert C. Weisberger collection. It's one of many great items on Martin Hart's American Widescreen Museum, appearing on the first page of the TODD-AO section. The Egyptian was the first theatre in Los Angeles to be equipped for the process. The American Widescreen Museum site is an amazing treasure trove of information on technical innovations in the movies.

A view of the demolition work being done in 1968 for the D-150 screen installation. The photo is courtesy of Robert Weisgerber and comes from a January 13, 1969 article in the Motion Picture Herald. It appears on the From Script To DVD Egyptian Theatre page, where you'll also find many other photos.

The D-150 screen being installed, substantially farther back onto what had been the stage than the earlier TODD-AO screen of 1955 had been. The photo comes from the January 13, 1969 article in the Motion Picture Herald. It appears on the Egyptian Theatre page of Roland Lataille's site where he credits it to Cinema Treasures.

A view of the completed 1968 screen installation from a January 29, 1969 Motion Picture Herald Article appearing on Roland Lataille's Egyptian Theatre page. The photo also appeared in the January 13, 1969 issue of Boxoffice. The first film to play on the new screen was "Funny Girl," in a 70mm reserved seat run.  

A caption with the photo: "Completely remodeled in a $250,000 six-week round-the-clock project, United Artists' 46 year old Egyptian Theatre features first Dimension 150 installation in Hollywood. The new curved screen is 75 feet wide, 30 feet further back than the original one. Forty-foot proscenium was widened to 80 feet. Projection room was lowered to seat level. Seating was increased from 1,318 to 1,340." Also see the rest of the January 29 Motion Picture Herald article about the remodel: part 1 | part 2 |

A look back at the rear of the house after the 1992 closing. Note the main floor booth, installed in 1968. In the upper right you get a bit of the valance for the D-150 drapery installation. Photographer and source are unknown.

A rare color view of the rear of the auditorium stripped prior to the American Cinematheque work. The photo by Jennifer Minasian was on the now-vanished website as part of a history of the renovation process. Sorry, but there isn't a larger version.

A screen view of the renovated auditorium. Thanks to Mike Hume for his 2016 photo. His Egyptian photo set originally appeared on the LAHTF Facebook page. Over 200 of his fine photos are in his Theatre set on Flickr. For more treats visit the Historic Theatre Photography section of his website.

Hodgetts & Fung (Craig Hodgetts, Ming Fung) were the architects for the American Cinematheque renovation. The theatre was acquired by the organization from the City of Los Angeles for $1 in 1996. Reopening was in 1998.

On the main floor. The side wall sound baffles open during intermission to allow a view of the historic structure beyond. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The view across the auditorium toward house right with the side wall sound panels open. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

A look up toward the ceiling. The ornate beam with the decorative work is what's left of the original proscenium. Most of the black area beyond would have been onstage. Photo: Mike Hume - 2016

More of the ceiling. Photo: Mike Hume - 2016

The ceiling as viewed from higher in the house. Photo: Lin Rhys- 2012

The Egyptian's auditorium from top of the balcony.  The balcony was added, and the main floor redone stadium style, for the American Cinematheque renovation. Originally all seating was on one level except for tiny private boxes up adjacent to the booth.  Thanks to Wendell Benedetti for the 2012 photo on the LAHTF Facebook page.  Also see his proscenium scarab detail.

A ceiling plaster detail. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The scarab at the center of the proscenium. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The rear of the house. The booth is back in its original location but the balcony was added.  The booth was downstairs from 1968 until the theatre closed in 1992.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Across the back of the balcony along the booth front wall. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

A wider look at what's left of the top of the original proscenium. Photo: Stephen Russo - LAHTF Facebook page - 2011

The scarab on the proscenium. Photo: Stephen Russo - LAHTF Facebook page - 2011

The regular screen at the Egyptian has been unlaced and pushed off to house right to clear the frame for the installation of a silver screen for the third World 3-D Expo in September 2013. The photo appeared on the 3-D Film Expo Facebook page.

The empty screen frame -- and a rare look at the speakers for the 5 stage channels + subs.  The  silver screen is about to go up for showing 3-D. The 2013 photo once appeared on the Egyptian Theatre Facebook page.

The silver screen going up in September 2013.  For more about the history of 3-D filming and exhibition see the terrific 3-D Film Archive site curated by Bob Furmanek. More recent 3-D presentations at the theatre have used the Dolby 3-D process, which uses a conventional white screen.

A fabulous look toward the Egyptian's screen in 2014 by Franck Bohbot. The photo is part of Franck's stunning Cinema Series of over thirty movie palace photos, mostly California theatres. The view also appears with a 2014 Huffington Post article that features Mr. Bohbot's work. It's also in a 2015 National Geographic article "A Night at the Cinema: Reviving the Glamor..."

The view from what would originally have been onstage. Much of that flat ceiling above us is area that would have originally been flyspace behind the proscenium. We're standing at a point that would have been halfway upstage. Photo: Wendell Benedetti -  LAHTF Facebook page - 2012

A bit different look to the rear of the house -- with customers. It's a 2013 photo that appeared on the World 3-D Film Expo Facebook page.

An interesting illustration taking a vintage Los Angeles Public Library photo and showing how the new auditorium construction fits into the historic space. It's by Wendell Benedetti, originally appearing on the LAHTF Facebook page. Thanks, Wendell!  Also see another schematic view he did.

Under the front of the booth as we look across to house left. We encounter this strange construction part way down the side aisles. Looking up, we see the contours of the original booth overhang.The steps get you up to the rear of the main floor of the new auditorium configuration. 

Over toward the house left side are stairs and an elevator to get to the balcony and the booth. Off to the left behind the gray wall there were originally about ten more rows of seats at the rear of the auditorium -- it's now lobby space. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

The wall and ceiling at the top of the house right aisle. They left those blob areas with a flat finish instead of replacing the ornament that was there. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

At the rear of the auditorium house right. Off to the right would originally have been the last few rows of seats -- it's now part of the 78 seat second theatre in excavated space below the original floor slab. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

Another house right aisle view. Photo: Mike Hume - 2016. Thanks again, Mike. Check out the Historic Theatre Photography section of his website to see what he's been up to lately. You can also find him on the Historic Theatre Photography Facebook page.

The view back to the lobby from the auditorium entrance house right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

The auditorium ceiling from the house right side aisle. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Several participants at a Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation "all-about" tour in the house right side wall singer's box. Access is up through the dressing rooms. Thanks to Don Solosan for his 2012 photo on the LAHTF Facebook page. Also see his auditorium view.  

Another house right side aisle view. Note the singer's box in the upper left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The front of the house right side of the auditorium with the sliding panels open in "intermission" mode. It's a view from the Egyptian Theatre page on the site Spherical Panoramas. You can pan around for all sorts of interesting views.

A look across to the house left wall of the original auditorium. It's a view from the panorama by Carel Struyken on the site 360 Cities.  Also see the site's panorama of the Egyptian forecourt by Bryan Groulx.

The house left singer's box. For access to the box on this side you go outside and up a flight of stairs. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

 A view back into the auditorium from house left side aisle. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The Egyptian Theatre pages: an overview | street views 1922-1954 | street views 1955-present | forecourt | lobby areas | back to top - auditorium | booth | backstage | Egyptian 2 & 3 / Arena Cinelounge |  

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