El Capitan Theatre’s Vibrant History Over the Years

The El Capitan Theatre is an iconic venue located in the heart of Hollywood, California, USA. It has been a popular destination for moviegoers since its opening. Discover more about this iconic theater's history below. 

In the 1920s, real estate developer Charles Toberman 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.

Dubbed "Hollywood's First Home of Spoken Drama" the El Capitan Theatre made its debut as the largest legitimate theatre in Hollywood on On May 3, 1926. Stars filled the 1,550 seat theatre for the premiere of the fresh-from-Broadway play CHARLOT'S REVUE, starring Jack Buchanan, Gertrude Lawrence and Beatrice Lillie.

On May 8, 1941, Orson Welles premiered his first feature, and very controversial, film CITIZEN KANE, at the El Capitan Theatre.

The theater closed for a two month renovation and reopened in March 1942 as the Hollywood Paramount, a new, streamlined "art moderne" first run movie house.

In 1989, the Walt Disney Company joined forces with Pacific Theatres and launched a two-year, remodel of the El Capitan Theatre.
The remodel was led by renowned theatre designer Joseph J. Musil with the supervision of the National Park Service's Department of the Interior, and guidance from conservator Martin Weil and architect Ed Fields.


The theatre reopened its doors to the public on June 19, 1991 for the world premiere of Walt Disney Pictures' THE ROCKETEER.