Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

China firm buys right to rename Grauman's Chinese theater

by Take Two®

Opening night of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II' at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on July 14, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. David Livingston/Getty Images

The huge pagoda-themed Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood is the backdrop to many glitzy movie premieres since it's debut 85 years ago. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood have been leaving their hand and footprints in the cement courtyard for decades.

But the aging single-screen theater needs a bit of TLC, and its owners have found a way to pay for that by changing its name to TCL, short for The Creative Life, after the Chinese TV firm that forked over more than $5 million for naming rights on the landmark

"It's a significant help in restoring and preserving and doing all the upgrades to the theater we had planned," said Alwyn Hight Kushner, president and chief operating officer of Grauman's, on Take Two. "We're working on stadium seating in the main theater, we're also going to be doing upgrades to the audio and visual presentation screen, painting, lighting, preservation of the handprints and a lot of other exciting upgrades and restoration projects."

The TCL Corporation is the fourth largest consumer electronics producer in the world, just behind Samsung, LG, Sony. The company is hoping to become a power player in the U.S. market, and buying naming rights of the iconic theater is just a part of their strategy. 

RELATED: Archival photos of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood

"TCL is a brand that's really well-known throughout the world and they're just going to be launching heavily into the US market," said Hight Kushner. "I think it was really the fact that the Chinese Theater is such an iconic part of American history and world history and really cinema history, and I think that's what excited them about the project."

This isn't the first time the theater has undergone a name change. Beginning in 1973, the theater was known as Mann's Chinese Theater after it was purchased by Ted Mann of the famous Mann Theaters chain. The name changed in the wake of Mann's bankruptcy in 2001. 

Though the official name of the theater will now be TCL, Hight Kushner says they will maintain part of the Graumann legacy.

"There's a lot of things we're going to do to preserve the legacy of Sid Grauman as well because obviously that's a really important part of the theater, we wouldn't be talking about it so much if we didn't think it was," said Hight Kushner. "You'll see the blades out front that say Grauman's Chinese Theater that are there and will remain there, as long as we're around."

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