Turner Classic Movies is celebrating its 20th birthday, but the viewers are getting the presents.
The network announced today the launch of the TCM Movie Locations Tour: Los Angeles, a three-hour bus trip “through movie history” in Tinseltown, with free admission for everyone on every trip. Beginning Friday, March 14, TCM will offer 20 excursions “throughout Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and surrounding areas” that pair “modern and classic film clips with visits to the locations where they were filmed.” Each luxury coach is branded with the TCM logo, seats 45, and comes equipped with a 65-inch HDTV monitor which will feature movie excerpts and specially produced video segments with on-air host Ben Mankiewicz.
The tour departs from the historic TCL Chinese Theatre and runs Friday through Sunday at 10 a.m. for four weekends: March 14-16, 21-23, 28-30, and April 4-6. Then, beginning Wednesday, April 9, TCM will offer 8 excursions in conjunction with their fifth annual Classic Film Festival (April 10-13). The tour makes its final trip on Monday, April 14 at 9:30 a.m. – 20 years to the day that Robert Osborne threw the switch and launched the channel in Times Square in 1994. (I’m hoping to be on that trip, so make sure to say hello if you are too. Just don’t get weird and possessive, because I need my space, man.)
Announced locations include Echo Park (CHINATOWN), the 2nd Street Tunnel (BLADE RUNNER, THE TERMINATOR), Bryson Apartments (DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE GRIFTERS) the Gilmore Gas Station (L.A. STORY), the Bradbury Building (BLADE RUNNER, THE ARTIST) and Union Station (THE WAY WE WERE, SILVER STREAK).
This West Coast offering follows up on the success of the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City, which kicked off on August 22 with Osborne and actress Jane Powell. (I was on that trip, and you can see my pictures here.) TCM also waived admission on the New York tour from December 1 through 20, with more than 1,000 free trips snapped up by fans around the Holidays. The New York tour is operated by On-Location Tours and usually costs $40 for adults and $27 for kids; it’s offered thrice weekly, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
In Los Angeles, the network is partnering with Starline Tours, which TCM says was founded in 1935 and is “the oldest tour organization in Los Angeles.” The guides will be provided by Starline, not TCM, so manage your expectations in that regard. I’ve taken the NYC tour with two different guides and found them both to be engaging and entertaining, though not necessarily classic film historians. As for the tour itself, if you don’t mind “contemporary classics” mixed in with your oldies, you’ll have a fine time. Plus, you’ll be on a road trip with 44 other old movie weirdos. What could be more fun than that?
Admission in Los Angeles is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
UPDATE 2/27/14 10:00 p.m. – Less than eight hours after the announcement, all 20 tour dates are sold out. No word yet on whether the network will offer the option to standby for sold out trips, add additional trips, or extend the tour beyond April 14.
UPDATE: 2/28/14 2:30 PM – TCM tweeted that tickets for 7 of the tours are still available. “We had more seats available than we’d allotted for two dates. We corrected link issues on other dates that prevented RSVP.”
UPDATE: 3/01/14 2:30 PM – Everything except 3/28 and 4/4 has sold out again. Keep checking, though, because the ticket situation seems to be somewhat fluid.
UPDATE: 3/02/14 4:00 PM – Everything appears to be sold out again.
The following are the 20 dates for the TCM Movie Locations Tour: Los Angeles offered at launch:
TCM Movie Locations Tour: Los Angeles (March 14 – April 14)
Friday 3/14 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Saturday 3/15 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Sunday 3/16 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Friday 3/21 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Saturday 3/22 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Sunday 3/23 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Friday 3/28 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Saturday 3/29 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Sunday 3/30 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Friday 4/4 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Saturday 4/5 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Sunday 4/6 – 10 a.m. SOLD OUT
Wednesday 4/9 – 1:30 p.m. SOLD OUT
Thursday 4/10 – 9:30 a.m. SOLD OUT
Thursday 4/10 1:30 p.m. SOLD OUT
Friday 4/11 – 9:30 a.m. SOLD OUT
Friday 4/11 – 1:30 p.m. SOLD OUT
Saturday 4/12 – 9:30 a.m. SOLD OUT
Sunday 4/13 – 9:30 a.m. SOLD OUT
Monday 4/14 – 9:30 am. SOLD OUT