Remembering Cinerama (Part V)

posted by Coate on October 3, 2008 at 8:15 am

Part V: Washington, D.C.

The following is Part Five 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 clones were exhibited in selected markets since every region was treated differently. As well, the 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 City
Part II: Chicago
Part III: San Francisco
Part IV: Houston

And now…Part V: Cinerama Presentations in Washington, D.C.!

Theater: Warner
Premiere: November 5, 1953
Engagement Duration: 99 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Promotional Hype: “Washington Premiere…Cinerama…bringing to you all the color, beauty and wonder of the world!”

Theater: Warner
Premiere: September 28, 1955
Duration: 65 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “A Whole World Of Entertainment Awaits You. And You Can See It Only At The Warner!”

Theater: Warner
Premiere: December 27, 1956
Duration: 55 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The New…The 3rd Cinerama!”

Theater: Warner
Premiere: January 15, 1958
Duration: 39 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The New Cinerama Presentation”

Theater: Warner
Premiere: October 16, 1958
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Produced in Cinemiracle, Presented in Cinerama. Thrill to the greatest wind-swept storm-tossed adventure that ever turned boys into men!”

Theater: Warner
Premiere: December 16, 1958
Duration: 39 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “You Live A Thousand Wondrous Excitements In The New Cinerama Adventure!”

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: November 7, 1962
Duration: 18 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The First Dramatic Film In Fabulous Cinerama!”

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: March 14, 1963
Duration: 44 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The Great Dramatic Motion Picture That Puts You In Every Scene!”

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: February 19, 1964
Duration: 36 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Rock The Cinerama Screen With Laughter!”

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: October 28, 1964
Duration: 3 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Puts You In The Middle Of The Most Action-Filled Story You’ve Ever Seen!”

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: March 10, 1965
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: None

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: July 20, 1965
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful Fun-Trail”

Theatrer: Uptown
Premiere: September 22, 1965
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Puts You In The Most Thrilling Adventure You Ever Lived!”

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: March 9, 1966
Duration: 15 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The super action show in Super Cinerama. Unlike anything you have ever seen.”

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: June 23, 1966
Duration: 13 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Where The Nile Divides, The Great Cinerama Adventure Begins!”

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: May 24, 1967
Duration: 21 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Sweeps You Into A Drama Of Speed And Spectacle!”

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: April 2, 1968 (World Premiere)
Duration: 52 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “An Epic Drama Of Adventure And Exploration!”

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

Theater: Uptown
Premiere: October 3, 1973
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “THIS IS CINERAMA Is Back To Entertain A Whole New Generation”

Compiled by Michael Coate

Sources: The Washington Post and Variety

Theaters in this post

Comments (9)

Coate on October 3, 2008 at 8:46 am

I thought I should add that while researching the Cinerama presentations in Washington, DC, I could find no booking details for Cinerama presentations of the following films, suggesting they were never commercially screened in the DC market:

HOLIDAY IN SPAIN (1960/61, 3-strip Cinerama)
THE BEST OF CINERAMA (1962, 3-strip Cinerama)

Some other details I left off the original post:

“Krakatoa, East Of Java” played its reserved-seat run at the L'ENFANT. I left the film off the list due to the L'ENFANT not being recognized as an official Cinerama venue and because the film was promoted as “Super 70mm” rather than “in Cinerama.”

Washington, DC was the sixth market to have a theater equipped for Cinerama presentations. (New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia were the first five.)

The UPTOWN played a two-week re-issue run of “Windjammer” in autumn 1971. Its presentation format was not promoted.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” has had at least six return runs at the UPTOWN. Typically, these were shown in and promoted as 70mm. I left them off the list due to the lack of any “In Cinerama” blurbs in their advertising.

JodarMovieFan on October 3, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Michael, thanks for your hard work and insightful remembrance of Cinerama. Unfortunately, I’m too young to have attended any of those Cinerama events. :(

I know the Uptown and Warner theaters well but have never seen a movie shown inside of the Warner at any time as they have mostly live performances nowadays. Now the Uptown has an auditorium with a huge curved screen so its easy to imagine how Cinerama could have been. On the other hand, the Warner today seems so small, I can’t imagine how it could show Cinerama with the same theatrical impact as the Uptown, unless the current set up somehow gave up front space for a much, much larger screen that is now gone. Also, were there any other Cinerama theaters besides these two in the DC area? I had thought there were more than two, but I may be confused with Baltimore that may have had more than two.

carolgrau on October 11, 2008 at 12:21 pm

sorry pal I did not look at this till today. My first cinerama was wonderful world of the brothers grimm at the Warner in Pittsburgh, Pa. what memories I have been a projectionist for 52 years, and have been through it all. Thanks for the memories

Coate on May 18, 2009 at 11:22 pm

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

dickneeds111 on March 24, 2012 at 9:10 am

In an answer to the Warner Cinerama. The screen at the Warner was a good size. Went from the corner to corner at the 146 degree angle. Was a good view from the floor to the balcony. When the Uptown took over its Cinerama screen was a little bigger but not much. When they converted to 70mm Cinerama there screen was as wide but not as curved as a lot of other converted theatres. Saw Ben Hur twice at the Warner in 70mm. Not too impressed with the screen curvature. Saw Dr Zhivago in 70mm at the Cinerama in Rotterdam, Holland. Very impressed. Huge deeply curved screen. Saw Grand Prix at the Boston, Cinerama in Cinerama 70mm also impressed at the screen. Saw 2001 at the cinerama theatres in Seattle and San Francisco. Seattle had a deeply curved big screen. San Francisco was a small screen and not deeply curved.Saw Brothers Grimm at the Cinerama in ZSanDiego. Big screen and in 3 strip. Saw how the West was won in Boston 3 strip and sat in the 1st row balcony. Big screen, excellent light, sound, focus. screen sync and sound sync. One of my favorite Cinerama theatres. Rotterdam was the best overseas.

dickneeds111 on September 5, 2014 at 9:34 am

I can’t understand why Windjammer played only 9 weeks. Here in Boston it played at the Cinerama for 33 wks on its 1st run and then when they brought it back later it played for another 23 wks. I only remember seeing the Greatest Story Ever Told at the Uptown. Poor projection for such an outstanding theatre. The pic was real dark the whole movie including daylight scenes. The night scenes with John Wayne were almost unwatchable. The presentation of Cinerama films both 3 strip and 70mm were much better presented at the Warner, Boston Cinerama, Providence cinerama, Seattle Cinerama, the Golde gate cinerama in San Fran and the Cinerama in Rotterdam, Holland.

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