Renovations Finished at Hollywood Blv — Chicago libraries

Renovations Finished at Hollywood Blv - Chicago libraries

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The first thing one will notice approaching Hollywood Blvd. Cinema is the clock tower and the mockup of the Blues Mobile from The Blues Brothers (1980), complete with Ellwood Blues (Dan Akroyd) sitting on the hood. The glass atrium sports a thirty-foot-long marquee retrieved from the 2001 restoration of TCL Chinese Theatre. which was originally known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre when Sid Grauman (1879-1950) opened it in 1927 and renamed Mann’s Chinese Theatre in 1973.

Incense burners have been converted into chandeliers and hang from under the clock tower. The smaller of the two bars in the lobby was largely made from wood salvaged from the restoration of the TCL Chinese Theatre.

The owners state. “The carved Hollywood wall plaque with twin dragons was hand made for us and imported from Taiwan, as was the large dragon wrapped columns and overhead carved dragon medallion at the usher stand. The atrium houses a few display cases full of our museum collection. This is where we host our special guest actors for signing autographs and is happens to be a great place for private receptions and gatherings… The door arch at the usher stand and large gazebo on the right are 150-year-old hand-carved teak shipped in from Rajistan with over 2000 man hours of work invested in the on-site restorations. There are only two such gazebos in the United States, the other being in the Animal Kingdom at Disney World. Make sure to notice the intricate detailed carving and painting in its columns and ceiling. The entry arch itself was originally the support structure for the matching garden swing, the chains of which are now used on the entry doors. The swing itself has been converted to the adjacent bench. Many of the items in the lobby were brought to this project directly from Beijing, including the twin 5-foot-tall gold Ho Tai Buddha’s at the usher stand and the reclining Buddha on the back bar. The large bronze Temple ‘Fu Dogs’ were imported from Fujian Province in China and they guard the 200-year-old reconstructed temple doors which are from rural China.”

At these bars, one can order an alcoholic drink, soda, or coffee, popcorn, candy, or food from the full menus. About twenty minutes before a film is due to be screened, the ushers will announce seating will begin in the relevant auditorium.

Movie-goers can carry their drinks from the lobby bars into the auditoriums. Seating of offered on a first come, first served basis.

The auditoriums have tiered seating. Some auditoriums have counters, while others have tables.

Waiters and waitresses take orders before films begin and carry trays of food and drinks out to tables unobtrusively while the films are being screened. They present bills about twenty minutes before films end.

The owners state. “We’ve recently ordered the manufacture and shipment of brand-new chairs for our facility. This is a project that we’re very excited about, as we will be replacing each and every chair in our theater. These new seats will offer the perfect blend of comfort and functionality, as they have been specifically designed for restaurant movie theaters. Providing more support and cushioning than our current chairs, with fold-able armrests, these chairs also retain the ease and functionality of roll-away seating.”

Most of the auditoriums branch directly off the Boulevard, a 200-foot-long hallway. The owners state it is “paved with tennis court paint, dyed black for the feel of asphalt. The parking meters are actually from along Hollywood Blvd. removed during a recent renovation of that famous street for the ‘Hollywood & Highland’ development which is now the permanent home for the Academy Awards. Notice the newly restored antique grillwork with the hand carved bird-of-paradise above the White Buddha in the hall. There are over 600 black & white photographs lining both sides of the boulevard from the silent film era through to the golden age of Hollywood. (The picture of partially clad Cindy Crawford is a modern exception and just there because the owner liked the picture.) Also notice the washrooms are a tribute to film making great Alfred Hitchcock. We don’t have a Men’s and Women’s room, it’s ‘Norman’s’ and ‘Mother’s’. Make sure to check out the maps of the stars’ homes mounted on the washroom walls, the Winona Ryder shopping spree is a favorite designation.”

The Boulevard has been repainted. The owners state. “‘The Blvd’ is an iconic feature of our theater. Designed in the motif of an actual street (parking meters and all!), it’s the path that takes you from our lobby and guides you to your auditorium. Due to its painted surface, our current Blvd has begun to feel and sound a bit sticky in humid weather conditions. In early September, we will be replacing the entire hall with a brand new non-stick, non-slip surface that will never require additional painting.”

The Purple Auditorium is an homage to Chinatown in Los Angeles, where many films were shot on location over the years, including Roman Polanski’s neo-film noir Chinatown (1974), starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston (1906-1987). This auditorium is decorated with a multitude of Chinese lanterns. The Blue Auditorium is an homage to William Wilder’s Academy-Award-winning film Sunset Boulevard (1950), starring William Holden (1918-1981) and Gloria Swanson (1899-1983).

The Green Auditorium is an homage to Los Angeles. The focus is on Hollywood sign, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Warner Brothers water tower, the El Capitan Theatre, Pantages Theatre (formerly the R.K.O. Pantages Theatre), and other landmarks.

The Red Auditorium is the largest of the ten auditoriums. It is dedicated to the Chinese-American actress-model-singer Anna May Wong (1905-1961). Although she became an international celebrity, she rarely received the treatment she deserved either in the U.S. or China because in Hollywood films she was always a treacherous femme fatale or tragic self-sacrificing figure and in China was she was blamed for misrepresenting Chinese women as if she had any control over how films were written or directed.

The eight-foot-tall gold-and-bronze Temple Dogs under the screen came from Beijing. The large medallions hanging in front of the stage curtains are approximately 200 years old. The twenty-four—foot-long framed “Nine Manchurian Dragons” on the back wall was carved in Taiwan and hand-painted in the U.S.

The Black Auditorium has an antechamber called the Hollywood Crypt. An homage to Sid Grauman’s first movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard. Grauman’s Egyptian Theater, a silent screen palace, it has pictures from the Grand Opening of Grauman’s Egyptian Theater.

This was the first Hollywood premiere, Robin Hood (1922) starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (1883-1939) on Wednesday October 18, 1922. The Black Auditorium is adorned with over three tons of ancient Egyptian-themed art.

Most of it was imported from overseas, but some of it originated in the prop department of 20th Century Fox. Movie-goers who appreciate the Black Auditorium may also enjoy a visit to the Egyptian Theatre in downtown DeKalb. Over 100 Egyptian-themed cinemas were built in the U.S. after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, but only five remain standing, and of those five only the Egyptian Theatre is east of the Rocky Mountains.

The Gold Auditorium has an antechamber that features Milton H. Greene (1922-1985) portraits of Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962). The auditorium itself is an homage to the Academy Awards and features eight giant Oscar statues.

The smallest auditorium is the Brown Auditorium. It pays tribute to both old movie palaces and The Maltese Falcon (1941), which starred Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957), Mary Astor (1906-1987), Sydney Greenstreet (1879-1954), and Peter Lorre (1904-1964).

Few of the old movie palaces remain standing, and most of those that do been remodeled as venues for stage plays and musical concerts, including the Chicago Theatre in downtown Chicago, the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, and the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. The Oriental Theatre in downtown Chicago is now the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The Egyptian Theatre is notable because its screen is still used as well as its stage, but the movies screened there are a mixture of documentaries and special screenings of old movies.

The Rainbow Room is a tribute to both a famous Los Angeles restaurant of the same name and The Wizard of Oz (1939). A highlight is the mockup of Dorothy’s house with the Wicked Witch of the East’s legs sticking out.

The old Ambassador Hotel’s Coconut Grove nightclub is the eponym for Hollywood Blvd. Cinema’s Coconut Grove auditorium. This was the site the second Academy Awards Ceremony and the very first Golden Globes Ceremony.

Renovations Finished at Hollywood Blv - Chicago libraries

When Hollywood Blvd. Cinema ran out of room to expand horizontally, it expanded vertically. Movie-goers can enter the Coconut Grove auditorium via stairs in a mockup of a Moroccan tower or an elevator.

The tower includes a menu from the nightclub signed by both Phyllis Diller (1917-2012) and Judy Garland (1922-1969). The auditorium itself is supposed to evoke a desert oasis ala Casablanca. The stars in the night sky ceiling are simulated by fiber optic twinkle lights.

The Silver Auditorium. also known as the Silver Director’s Room, is the newest auditorium. It is an homage to old Art Deco-style movie palaces from the 1920s that features stained glass wall sconces eight large Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) movie posters.

One can rent out the Silver Auditorium for private screenings, parties, etc. The management considers this the best option if one wants to show a feature film, a DVD presentation, or hook up a laptop computer to show a PowerPoint presentation.

Alternatively, one can rent out The Party Room if one wants to show a private DVD or PowerPoint presentation. These are the Private Screening Room options.

The Robert Nudelman Hollywood Museum hosts a combination of permanent exhibits and rotating exhibits. It includes plaster castings of the faces of famous actors and actresses that would have been used to test makeup, wigs, costumes, and special effects.

One of the permanent exhibits is dedicated to Hollywood Blvd. Cinema’s successful campaign to have the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz being recognized with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on the sidewalk in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater. The story is also told as a DVD extra of the film’s release anniversary.

Robert Nudelman was a Hollywood preservationist who died in 2008 at the age of fifty-two. His greatest victory may have been to convince The Walt Disney Company to spend $6,000,000 to restore El Capitan Theatre to its original splendor. He founded the Hollywood Heritage Museum in Los Angeles.

The owners state, “Our museum has been renovated to allow its space to be used as a full banquet room. Our banquet room is available for rental for private events. This room is a perfect environment for groups of up to 64.”

For information on renting out this space, one can e-mail event coordinator marsha [at] atriptothemovies, visit the Host An Event page on the Web site, or call (630) 427-1880 x102.

The address of Hollywood Blvd. Cinema is 1001 West 75th Street, Woodridge, Illinois 60517. It is located inside the Woodgrove Festival Mall.

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