Remembering Cinerama (Part VIII)

posted by Coate on October 24, 2008 at 10:00 am

REMEMBERING CINERAMA
Part VIII: San Diego

The following is Part Eight in a series of retrospectives on Cinerama, the legendary motion picture process that kicked off the widescreen revolution. The series will not describe in detail the particulars of what the system was or how it worked, as extensive coverage of such is accessible in numerous books and websites. Instead, the series focuses on providing an historical overview of a less-accessible aspect of the Cinerama story: a film-by-film breakdown of how, when and where Cinerama (and its multi-panel clones) were exhibited in selected markets since every region was treated differently. As well, the easy-to-reference articles serve to provide nostalgia to those who experienced Cinerama when it was new and to highlight the movie palaces in which these memorable events took place.

Part I: New York
Part II: Chicago
Part III: San Francisco
Part IV: Houston
Part V: Washington, D.C.
Part VI: Los Angeles
Part VII: Atlanta

And now Part VIII: Cinerama Presentations in San Diego!

THRILLARAMA
Theater: California
Premiere: February 1, 1957 (West Coast Premiere)
Engagement Duration: 1 week
Format: Thrillarama
Promotional Hype: “You’re In The Biggest Screen You’ve Ever Seen!”

WINDJAMMER
Theater: Fox
Premiere: April 24, 1959
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: Cinemiracle
Hype: “You’ve Never Seen Anything Like It Before! The Giant Wall-To-Wall Cinemiracle Screen Comes Alive!”

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: November 20, 1962
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The First Fabulous Dramatic Film In Cinerama”

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: April 5, 1963
Duration: 53 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The Great Dramatic Motion Picture That Puts You In Every Scene!”

IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: April 22, 1964
Duration: 50 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Rock The Cinerama Screen With Laughter!”

CIRCUS WORLD
Theater: Center
Premiere: February 17, 1965
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Surrounds You With The Greatest Thrill-Packed Story Ever Filmed!”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Theater: Center
Premiere: April 13, 1965
Duration: 15 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Only Once In A Lifetime An Entertainment So Rich ┬ŽAn Experience So Rewarding”

THIS IS CINERAMA
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: April 14, 1965
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “You! Are In The Picture! Be Ready For Cinerama Thrills Of A Lifetime!”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: May 26, 1965
Duration: 10 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “New! Different! You Take An Adventure To The Four Corners Of The Globe!”

THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL
Theater: Center
Premiere: July 27, 1965
Duration: 13 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Now Cinerama Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful Fun-Trail!”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (Return Engagement)
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: August 4, 1965
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: None

SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: October 6, 1965
Duration: 10 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Escape With Cinerama To The Sun Splashed, Moon Drenched, Mystery Washed South Seas!!!”

MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY
Theater: Center
Premiere: October 27, 1965
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Sail Away And Live All The Excitement Your Mind Ever Imagined In Cinerama”

CINERAMA HOLIDAY
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: December 17, 1965
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “You’ve never lived until you’ve sat in a specially equipped Cinerama theatre!”

BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Theater: Center
Premiere: December 22, 1965
Duration: 20 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Unlike Anything You Have Ever Seen! Bigger Than HOW THE WEST WAS WON! Super Cinerama’s Greatest Picture!”

RUSSIAN ADVENTURE
Theater: Center
Premiere: May 11, 1966
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The Giant Eyes Of Cinerama Probe The Secret Intimate Life Behind The Iron Curtain!”

KHARTOUM
Theater: Center
Premiere: June 23, 1966
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Where the Nile divides, their mighty conflict begins!”

GRAND PRIX
Theater: Center
Premiere: February 21, 1967
Duration: 35 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Sweeps You Into A Drama Of Speed And Spectacle!”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Theater: Center
Premiere: May 28, 1968
Duration: 44 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “An Epic Drama Of Adventure And Exploration!”

ICE STATION ZEBRA
Theater: Center
Premiere: April 2, 1969
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Ice Station Zebra…remember the name, your life may depend on it!”

KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA
Theater: Center
Premiere: June 25, 1969
Duration: 16 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The New Cinerama Hurls You Into The Incredible Day That Shook The Earth To Its Core!”

THIS IS CINERAMA (Re-Issue)
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: August 17, 1973
Duration: 4 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The Last Time There Was A Show Like This One It Was This One! THIS IS CINERAMA Is Back To Entertain A Whole New Generation”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (Re-Issue)
Theater: Cinerama
Premiere: August 21, 1974
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Exactly as originally presented in Cinerama and Stereophonic Sound!”

NEVER SHOWN IN CINERAMA
SEARCH FOR PARADISE
HOLIDAY IN SPAIN
THE BEST OF CINERAMA
CUSTER OF THE WEST (general release only)

NOTES

San Diego was the last United States market to play THIS IS CINERAMA in a reserved-seat, 3-strip Cinerama presentation during its original release.

Unlike the majority of the Cinerama theaters in most markets, the two Cinerama venues in San Diego were purpose built.

The Cinerama was designed by Richard George Wheeler and Associates, which designed, among others, the SDG&E building in downtown San Diego. Ownership was Gordon and Lockwood (1962-66) and Pacific Theatres (1966-88). The venue closed in 1988 and was demolished.

The Center was designed by Arthur Froehlich and Associates, the same firm that designed the Hanna-Barbera studio in the early 1960s. Ownership was Pacific Theatres. The venue was gutted and turned into a triple in 1971. It closed in 1994 and is now a shoe store.

The Cinema 21 was said to have been Cinerama capable. The theater never played any of the Cinerama films, and photographic evidence suggests the theater was not equipped with three projection booths.

[i]Compiled by Michael Coate & Gabriel Neeb

Sources: The San Diego Union, The San Diego Tribune and Variety.

For more on Cinerama and San Diego cinema info, visit:[/i] http://blog.myspace.com/sandiegocinerama

Comments (8)

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on October 27, 2008 at 6:54 am

I’m hoping that this series gets to cover Londons/ UK Cinerama history at the London Casino, London Coliseum etc. So far this series has been nothing short of fascinating!

nritota
nritota on October 28, 2008 at 8:52 pm

I had the privledge of cutting my teeth in a Cinerama (Providence, RI) as a high school student.

My first exposure was a few years earlier after having won radio passes and ‘treating’ my parents to a night at the movies. Usherettes in white gloves, everyone dressed for the occasion and a screen as wide as a young man had ever seen led me to pursue a career in motion picture exhibition.

I came back to manage this gem, and moved on to the modern multiplexes that our company (successor to Lockwood & Gordon-SBC Theatres) managed throughout the east.

I was in many cities in many theatres, but none compared to the Cinerama experience.

Noorda
Noorda on March 22, 2009 at 1:35 pm

My first cinerma was “This is Cinerma” at a theatre in Hollywood.(LA) in 195?4) I lived in San Diego (OB) My wife said “I’m scared” and I said “whats to be scared about” Then the film started into the Grand Canyon in a plane. WOW! I lifted off my seat. It was great..beautiful.. what an experence. I was 21. OH the good ole days.
Noorda

Coate
Coate on May 19, 2009 at 1:23 am

Part 1: New York City
Part 2: Chicago
Part 3: San Francisco
Part 4: Houston
Part 5: Washington, DC
Part 6: Los Angeles
Part 7: Atlanta
Part 8: San Diego
Part 9: Dallas
Part 10: Oklahoma City
Part 11: Syracuse
Part 12: Toronto
Part 13: Columbus
Part 14: Montreal
Part 15: Northern New Jersey
Part 16: Charlotte
Part 17: Vancouver
Part 18: Salt Lake City
Part 19: Boston
Part 20: Philadelphia
Part 21: Fresno
Part 22: Detroit
Part 23: Minneapolis
Part 24: Albuquerque
Part 25: El Paso
Part 26: Des Moines
Part 27: Miami
Part 28: Orange County
Part 29: Pittsburgh
Part 30: Baltimore
Part 31: Long Island

imaxman
imaxman on October 12, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Cinama 21 had a Cinerama style booth.

imaxman
imaxman on October 12, 2009 at 6:18 pm

The Cinerama was running “Empire Strikes Back” When I was relief projectionist there, The Chief projectionst Dick Koldoff had run all the 3 strip films there and had in his archives tfhe last 20 minutes od “This Is Cinerama”. He was a master projector repairman, rebuilding projectors from all over the US.

I was at the Center Three for a while after it had been split into a tri-plex. The projector in each booth supossedly was a cinerama machine converted back to 4 perf pulldown.

The Cinema 21 was a 35/70 house but had a long projection booth same as Cinerama and Center-3. although the ports were covered and never used for three strip. I have pictures.

I have worked most every theatre in San Diego from 1967 to now.

Imax says I am the most senior IMAX Projectionist still working anywhere in the world.
IMAXJACK

neeb
neeb on November 30, 2009 at 8:02 am

Bugs,

Drop me a line. I’d love to pick your brain with regards to the Cinerama and Cinema 21.

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