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What is Grauman's Chinese Theatre?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 17, 2024

Grauman's Chinese Theatre is a famous cultural attraction located in Hollywood, California. The theatre is widely regarded as one of the most famous movie theatres in the world, and is the frequent location of movie premiers and other important Hollywood events. In addition to the theatre itself, many visitors flock to Grauman's to see autographs made by famous movie stars in the cement of the forecourt.

The history of Grauman's Chinese Theatre began in the 1920s, when Sid Grauman first conceived of the idea of building a movie theatre shaped like a giant Chinese pagoda, to complement other fabulously decorated movie theatres in Hollywood. By the 18 May, 1927 premiere of “King of Kings,” the theatre had been finished, complete with cultural artifacts from China and lavish carvings, paintings, and textile designs. Grauman's other projects included the Egyptian Theatre, a few blocks away from the site of the Chinese Theatre.

The forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre is probably the most famous feature of the building, with two giant red columns holding up a towering roof. A large carving of a dragon is situated above the doors, while two heaven dogs from China guard the doors. The concrete tiles in the courtyard are signed by well known actors and actresses, and many of the tiles are also marked with hand and footprints. In some cases, more unusual mementos can be found, like the wand prints of the Harry Potter stars, Betty Grable's leg, hoofprints from equestrian stars, R2D2s wheel marks, and cigar prints.

The distinctive building was designated a historic and cultural landmark in 1968, in recognition of the place it has in Hollywood's history. The theatre is located along Hollywood's “Walk of Fame,” which immortalizes famous movie stars with plaques in the pavement along Hollywood Boulevard. Visitors to Hollywood often traverse the Walk of Fame and try to visit Grauman's Chinese Theatre as well, to admire the extensive decorations, which were refurbished most recently in 2001.

By convention, Grauman's Chinese Theatre is one of the most sought-after locations for Hollywood movie premiers. This is not terribly surprising, since Sid Grauman first popularized the idea of star studded premieres to promote movies and the theatres they were shown in. The famous facade of Grauman's can often be seen in coverage of movie premiers, and it is also featured in the ceremonies held to immortalize the autographs of movie stars in the concrete of the forecourt.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a America Explained researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By BoniJ — On Oct 12, 2011

The Grauman's Chinese Theater is not only a work of art, but also an historical monument. It really shows the history of Hollywood, including the actors, actresses, film makers and others, but also houses a history of Chinese culture. What a combination!

It makes sense that it became a cultural and historical landmark.

Besides being a replica of a large Chinese pagoda, it is decorated with dragons and many other cultural articles from China. It was constructed in 1920. I hope it stays standing to last many more years.

By BabaB — On Oct 11, 2011

There is no other place in the world like Hollywood. It is so unique. We took a trip there with the family and visited the Grauman's Chinese Theater and the the Walk of Fame.

I would love to go there, all dressed up in an evening dress with diamond jewelry, to attend a premier of a movie. That theater is something to behold.

I don't remember the Egyptian Theater, which is nearby, but I'm sure it is very impressive also.

By golf07 — On Oct 11, 2011

When we visited Los Angeles on a trip, we had to make a stop in Hollywood. One of the places we visited was Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

We had our picture taken in front of the theatre an spent some time looking at the famous autographs, hand and footprints.

It was a lot of fun to see all of the names and most of them were recognized by all of us. There wasn't anything special going on when we were there, but it was fun to say we have been there.

We also had our picture taken with the Hollywood sign in the background. It was a fun trip and if you ever make it to Hollywood, you will want to make this one of your stops.

By Bhutan — On Oct 11, 2011

We recently went to Los Angeles on a family trip, and it was a lot of fun. We went to all of the Hollywood sites including Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It was such an amazing place. I highly recommend anyone that goes to Los Angeles to take a few moments to tour this site. I was able to get a City Pass that allowed me to visit this attraction along with a bunch of others for a fixed price that was a lot cheaper than if I had visited these sites individually.

They have multiple day passes along with single day passes. It was well worth it.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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