Grauman's Chinese Theatre to Be Sold to Producers Elie Samaha, Don Kushner
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, a Hollywood landmark and perhaps the most famous movie theater in the world, is being sold.
Controversial nightclub operator-turned-film producer Elie Samaha and producer Don Kushner are buying the theater from a joint venture of Warner Bros. and Viacom Inc. for an undisclosed price. The transaction is expected to close May 20. As part of the deal, the buyers will take over the long-term lease of the adjacent Mann Chinese 6 Theatre, which is housed in the Hollywood & Highland Center.
The famed theater, which is on local and national historic registries -- protecting it from demolition or significant alteration -- has long been home to some of Hollywood's biggest movie premieres. Mann Theatres, which is co-owned by Warner and Viacom, operates the theater and the Mann 6 multiplex.
Changes could be in store for the Chinese Theatre. The new owners are exploring ways to maximize "the real estate opportunity," said commercial real estate broker John Tronson, who has been informally consulting on the project for Samaha and Kushner, whose credits include Tron: Legacy and Monster.
Tronson, a Hollywood expert and principal at Ramsey-Shilling Commercial Real Estate Services, said that the new owners are considering advertising opportunities, special events and product promotions as ways to wring more revenue out of the property.
"They do movie premieres there, but that's all they really do in the way of events," said Tronson, who is consulting on the project along with Ramsey-Shilling CEO Chris Bonbright. "They could do a lot of other things there that would drive people who come and visit and see it."