El Capitan Theatre
Built in 1926
6838 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028
In the 1920s, real estate developer Charles Toberman and Sid Grauman built the Egyptian, Chinese and El Capitan theatres. Los Angeles based Stiles O. Clements designed the elaborate cast-concrete Spanish Colonial style exterior; San Francisco architect G. Albert Lansburgh, known for his design of over 50 West Coast theatres and luxury cinema houses, designed the lavish East Indian inspired interior. Stars of the stage attended the opening of the El Capitan Theatre, the largest legitimate theatre in Hollywood, which debuted on May 3, 1926. They filled the 1,550-seat theatre, dubbed "Hollywood's First Home of Spoken Drama", for the premiere of the fresh-from-Broadway play CHARLOT'S REVUE, starring Jack Buchanan, Gertrude Lawrence, and Beatrice Lillie.
In 1941, the El Capitan Theatre was converted from a playhouse to a movie theatre. Searching for a theatre in Hollywood to premiere his controversial film, CITIZEN KANE, Orson Welles rented the El Capitan. On May 8, 1941, Welles' first feature film, CITIZEN KANE, premiered at the El Capitan Theatre. Shortly thereafter, the theatre closed for a ten-month renovation and modernization. The theatre reopened in March 1942 as the Hollywood Paramount, a new, streamlined "art moderne" first run movie house. Meanwhile, the El Capitan name and the entire El Capitan staff moved to the nearby Hollywood Playhouse.
In 1989, the Walt Disney Company joined forces with Pacific Theatres and launched a two-year, museum quality restoration of The El Capitan, led by renowned theatre designer Joseph J. Musil. Musil with the supervision of the National Park Service's Department of the Interior, and guidance from conservator Martin Weil and architect Ed Fields, achieved the goal recreating the original 1926 look and feel -- including original design elements such as the ornate plasterwork found hidden behind walls and the opera boxes in the main auditorium. The theatre reopened its doors to the public on June 19, 1991 for the world premiere of Walt Disney Pictures' THE ROCKETEER. THE ROCKETEER became the first of many Walt Disney Pictures feature films to premiere at the El Capitan Theatre.