On Thursday we were invited to see Mary Poppins Returns at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, which was a truly amazing experience. The El Capitan was built in the early 1920s by real estate developer Charles E. Toberman as one of three place houses for the Hollywood area. It wasn’t until 1941 that the El Capitan was transformed from a playhouse to a theater being renamed to the Hollywood Paramount Theater. Orson Well’s controversial film Citizen Kane was the first film to grace the theater’s silver screen. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Walt Disney Company joined with Pacific Theaters and brought the theater back to its original glory reopening its doors with the world premiere of the Disney Pictures the Rocketeer.
When going to the El Capitan to see a movie it is a true experience with photo opportunities, movie amenities, pre-show entertainment, and other little extras all set in the timeless architecture of the theater itself; and the Mary Poppins Returns El Capitan experience was no different. As you walk into the theater you are greeted by blooming cherry trees, park benches, Mary Poppins wall art, and a Leerie (Lamplighter) for the perfect photo opportunity.
With refreshments in hand, an El Capitan usher will help you to your seat where you’ll enjoy the pre-show entrainment of Disney and Christmas because it is the season, songs being played on the theaters amazing 4/37 “Mighty” Wurlitzer. The Mighty Wurlitzer is a true treasure of the theater being the last of the original five “fox specials” that were built in the 1920s.
Even the curtain lifting to reveal the silver screen is amazing and gives much anticipation for the movie to begin. The movie itself was a fantastic blend of the classic 1964 film and the new generation. Emily Blunt makes an amazing Mary Poppins and with the help rest of the cast brings the story to life. The new storyline does a good job of bringing back hints of the original. The musical score for the film by Oscar-nominated Rob Marshall is masterfully done and adds a key element to the film, but it is the films “The Place Where Lost Things Go” that will invoke many emotions.
After the show, be sure to head downstairs to check out original props and costumes from the movie. Items on display range from the notice of repossession from the Banks door, the Banks kite with the Votes for Women sash, and the Banks Nursery Royal Dutton Bowl. Costumes worn by Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda during the production of Mary Poppins Returns are also on display for fans to see.
The El Capitan experience is a truly magical movie-going experience that kids, I mean, moviegoers of all ages will enjoy. After you experience everything that the El Capitan has head next door and put a cherry on it by enjoying an ice cream sundae from Ghirardelli.