TCL Chinese Theatre to project movie scenes on the outside, too

Scenes from classic movies are part of a new light show to be projected onto the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

As if Hollywood Boulevard didn’t have enough distractions, the TCL Chinese Theatre plans to blare a dramatic score while projecting movie scenes on the outside of the iconic building starting Monday.

As part of its 90th anniversary celebration, the historic theater on Hollywood Boulevard, once known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, plans to use “projection mapping technology” to display a montage of movie scenes across the front of the towering structure. Moving images of fire and dragons also will get in on the act.

The new four-minute spectacle, intended to draw the attention of passing tourists, will play every 20 minutes from 8 p.m. until midnight.

Scenes from well-known films — “Mary Poppins,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “The Sound of Music,” “Taxi Driver,” “Titanic” and “The Matrix,” among others — will be cast by nine projectors mounted on the roof of the theater. The display was created by Montreal-based Christie 360 Experiential Studios.


Alwyn Hight Kushner, president of TCL Chinese Theatre, said the light show is intended not only to put on a show for tourists on the sidewalk, but to draw them in to catch the movies playing inside. The theater’s forecourt — famously marked with the hand and shoe prints of dozens of celebrities — draws up to 5 million visitors a year.

“Inviting people to your venue starts well outside,” she said, adding that the scenes shown on the building can be modified in the future to add holiday images or other scenes.

Disneyland celebrated its 60th anniversary with a special fireworks show that included 3-D image projection.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Projection mapping has gained popularity in the tourism industry in the last few years. It relies on lasers to scan the surface of buildings and structures to create a 3-D landscape.

Special software is then used to program high-definition projectors to cast moving images onto the uneven surface. The technology ensures that the projected images conform to the surface.

Disneyland used projection mapping in 2015 as part of its “Disneyland Forever” fireworks display to celebrate the resort’s 60th anniversary. The fireworks show included scenes from Walt Disney Co. movies.

When Universal Studios Hollywood launched its Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion last year, the park used projection mapping to showcase characters from the film series on the 200-foot Hogwarts Castle. The park plans to launch a similar light show on the castle starting June 23, called the “Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle.”

And in the world of sports, the Chicago Blackhawks turned to projection technology for a light display at the opening of the 2016-17 season at the United Center.

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