You might recall I attended the Iron Man 3 red carpet premiere at the El Capitan theater. But did you know it’s not just for premieres, you can take in a movie at El Capitan anytime you like (well as long as they are open). During my whirlwind trip to LA, the day after the premiere, we had a chance to tour the theater and get to know a little more about it’s history from general manager, Ed Collins.
The night of the premiere I was in awe of the beauty of this theater. It was stunning and that was in the dark. The day we toured it I really got to appreciate, so much more, just how much history is behind this theater.
Before our tour we headed down to one of the rooms that they use for birthday parties for a tasty breakfast, of adorable Mickey waffles:
After breakfast we talked with Ed and he gave us a little history on the El Capitan
What made this theater special is for the first 15 years of its life, it did only stage shows. So about 150 stage shows in the first 15 years. Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable, Bob Hope. They all appeared on this stage. Names that we all recognize.
The first movie to show in the El Capitan was Citizen Kane. The El Capitan went outside of what other theaters wouldn’t do and it made all the difference I think. Here is more on what Ed Collins had to say about that:
How many have seen or know of the movie, “Citizen Kane”?
Back when it was looking for a home to have its premiere, no theater wanted to play it. Why? Because theaters were owned by studios at that time. And Mr. Hearst’s papers reviewed their movies.
Basically saying, we’re not gonna show a movie that isn’t a flattering portrait. So here was the El Cap, that did stage shows only. The owner, Mr. Toberman, said, “Hey, I’ll try a movie.” So “Citizen Kane” had its world premiere here in 1941. And Mr. Toberman said, ‘Movies are the way to go.’ The theater was closed and modernized. A new look that was really sleek and modern. We ripped out everything that you see here. Then the theater reopened in 1942 as the Paramount. It was affiliated with the Paramount Studios and ran another 50 years, premieres and first run movies.
That’s when Disney came to Hollywood. And our theory was boy, Hollywood Boulevard’s a pretty famous street but the theaters are kinda tired. We put a lot of effort into the making of our movies, right? We want the experience of watching them to match the quality of the movie itself. So that’s why Disney came to El Capitan Paramount Theater in 1989 and restored it back to the way it looked when it was new.
After the restoration there was a movie that had the honor of being the first movie premiere which was the Rocketeer, here Ed tells us a little bit about that and current premieres:
The first movie that played here when we finished restoring it was The Rocketeer. What made “The Rocketeer” special was, not only did it have its premiere on Hollywood Boulevard, but that was our first stage show. So we said,“Hey yeah. Let’s do like they did in the golden era of movies. We’ll have a stage show before the movie.”
So for “The Rocketeer” we had the El Capitan singers and dancers. It was a show that was produced by Disneyland on the stage in front of the curtain. And that kicked off stage shows and movies. Then in 1998 we said, “You know, we should have done the stage the first go round. We’ll do it this time.” And we added the mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. So, that was our second restoration. And that leads us to where we are today. We do 10 to 12 movie premieres per year.
As you know the latest was “Iron Man 3” last night. Coming up is, Pixar & Disney’s “Monster’s University”. So that’s what this theater’s all about.
Not only is the El Capitan a beautiful theater but upstairs you can walk through the wall of fame and see so much movie and celebrity history. I found myself amazed at all the celebrities connected to this majestic theater.
A few things of interest coming to El Capitan:
- IRON MAN 3 is currently playing at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, CA until June 20th in Disney Digital 3D and Real D 3D
- See a Display of Collectibles & Comic Books from the Private Collection of Stan Lee!
- For tickets call 1 (800) DISNEY6 or visit www.elcapitantickets.com
Also,coming this summer to the El Capitan Theatre:
- June 21st – August 8th: MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (Plus, see Mike & Sulley in the MU Pep Rally with the Sprit Squad Live on Stage!)
- August 9th – September 19th: Disney’s PLANES
Keep up with all the El Capitan happenings by visiting their website, facebook, and twitter (#ElCapitan)! Make sure to stop in and see the El Capitan for yourself, it’s one landmark you don’t want to miss.
**Thank you to Disney & Marvel for this fun day as part of the #IronMan3Event. Travel, lodging and activities were covered. All opinions are my own**