Universal Amphitheatre (later known as Gibson Amphitheatre) was an indoor amphitheatre located in Los Angeles, California within Universal City. It was originally built as an outdoor venue, opening in the summer of 1972 with a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was remodeled and converted into an indoor theatre in 1982 to improve acoustics. The amphitheater closed on September 6, 2013 to be demolished for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The Amphitheatre was originally built as a daytime arena where patrons of the Universal Studios Studio Tour could watch stuntmen perform a western-themed stunt show and shootout. Construction began in 1969. By 1970, the stage was completed and three old west facades were constructed for the show. The arena was completed in 1971.
Because it was empty at night, a young studio tour guide suggested that the arena be used to hold rock concerts. On June 28, 1972, the venue hosted its first concert, a production of the Broadway rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The show was a hit and was extended until cold weather forced its closure.
During these early years, the stunt show was performed during the day while at night the venue hosted concerts. The theatre proved to be so popular that it regularly filled up to 98% capacity. After only one year, the studio expanded it to seat 5,200 patrons.
In 1980, the venue closed for two years for a major renovation. During this time, a roof was constructed to allow for year-round entertainment, acoustics were improved and seating was expanded again to 6251 seats.
In May 1993, Universal added the Universal CityWalk shopping and dining district, the first of its kind, around the entrance to the theatre. This allowed patrons to eat and drink before and after concerts.
During its forty-year history, the venue hosted concerts by high-profile touring artists, musicals such as The Who's Tommy and major recurring events, including the MTV Movie Awards and the Teen Choice Awards. The amphitheatre was best known for its acoustics and its sightlines.
The theatre was known as the Universal Amphitheatre from its inception until early 2005, when naming rights were acquired by the Gibson Guitar Corporation as part of a partnership between Gibson, Universal and House of Blues.
On December 6, 2011, it was announced that Gibson Amphitheatre would close and would be demolished to make way for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park area at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The final performance held at the Gibson Amphitheatre was Pepe Aguilar on September 6th, 2013.
At the time of its closure, it was the third largest mid-sized venue in California, behind Nokia Theatre and the Shrine Auditorium - two other Los Angeles venues. The amphitheatre was demolished on September 25, 2013.
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