Historical Photomerge: Hollywood Studios Series Part 2

Disney's Hollywood Studios Sunset Theater and the former Warner Beverly Hills Theater

The Beverly Sunset Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and its architectural influence; the former Warner Beverly Hills Theater. The archival portion of this image was provided courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, California; image has been altered from the original.

Most of the architecture at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) is inspired from actual buildings in Los Angeles, California. Our second installment in the Hollywood Studios Series focuses on a famous Beverly Hills theater. The Warner Beverly Hills Theater originally located at 9404 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, CA was a single screen movie house that seated between 1,500-2,000 guests. It was designed in the Art Deco style by B. Marcus Priteca and built in 1931. Unfortunately the theater was demolished in 1988 to make room for this parking lot. Fortunately Walt Disney World built this fabulous facade soon afterwards to house three shops that sell candy and merchandise.

Historical photomerge of the former Warner Beverly Hills Theater and the Beverly Sunset Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Historical Photomerge Process

The day of the shoot I discovered there is a large merchandise kiosk in the exact spot I needed to be. There is also a big, beautiful palm tree in front of the marquee at that angle. If you look closely at the photos above you will notice that Disney didn’t build an exact replica so I had to consider where I would align the two structures.  I knew I would use the marquee area from the archival photo with the vintage cars. So I chose a position as close as possible and used various Photoshop tools (3D, masking, distortion transformation, clone stamping, etc.) to make the two images as seamless as possible. A few visually disruptive elements like the green Disney trash can on the left and Florida palm trees in the street to the right were intentionally left in. Preserving the original, small scale of the vintage cars is also intentional. Without visual clues I’ve heard feedback that some viewers don’t realize they are looking at two different historic periods. Adding retro styling served two purposes; to make the photomerge illusion stronger and to create a nostalgic postcard feel.

Sources / Learn More

Click links below to see more of the Hollywood Studios Series and to learn more about the original architecture. Be sure to visit the Disney Parks website to plan your next vacation so you can experience all the creative imagineering firsthand.


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Unauthorized reuse of this historical photomerge (including the archival image) is strictly prohibited.

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