Post Monday 9/15 Please — Remembering Cinerama

posted by Coate on September 13, 2008 at 8:39 am

REMEMBERING CINERAMA
Part II: Chicago

With last week’s DVD and Blu-ray release of the Cinerama classic “How The West Was Won,” as well as the recent screenings of “How The West Was Won” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, I thought this would be a great time to take a comprehensive look at Cinerama for those who experienced it when it was new and for those who know it only as history.

The following is Part Two of an ongoing series of retrospective postings on the Cinerama process (and copycat formats such as Cinemiracle and Kinopanorama) which provides a reminder of the many great movie palaces in which these memorable events took place. Part I: New York City was posted a few days ago. This entry focuses on the Cinerama presentations in Chicago.

Enjoy the flashback!

THIS IS CINERAMA
Theater: Palace
Premiere: July 29, 1953
Engagement Duration: 98 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Promotional Hype: “Cinerama puts YOU in the picture…in the most remarkable new kind of emotional experience ever brought to the theatre. You are swept into the picture…actually surrounded with the magic of CineramaSound. Have you got your tickets yet?”

CINERAMA HOLIDAY
Theater: Palace
Premiere: June 15, 1955
Duration: 78 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Midwest Premiere Of The New, The 2nd Cinerama Presentation. Imitations may come and go but only Cinerama puts you in the picture.”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
Theater: Palace
Premiere: December 12, 1956
Duration: 70 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The New, The 3rd Cinerama Presentation Will Light Up The Entertainment Sky. There’s nothing in the world like it. When YOU share the fabulous pageantry…live the intimate drama…as YOU hurtle to the four corners of the globe.”

SEARCH FOR PARADISE
Theater: Palace
Premiere: April 16, 1958
Duration: 22 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Cinerama takes you on an elephant ride…and down a raging river on a frail raft…to visit lands and peoples virtually unchanged since the days of Marco Polo!”

WINDJAMMER
Theater: Opera House
Premiere: June 20, 1958
Duration: 14 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinemiracle
Hype: “Ahoy! Ride The Mainsail To Adventure, Romance And Excitement With Louis De Rochemont’s Windjammer. Cinemiracle…Too exciting to describe! Too big to believe!”

SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE
Theater: Palace
Premiere: September 18, 1958
Duration: 59 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Escape With The New Cinerama Adventure To The Moon-Drenched Mystery-Washed South Seas!”

WINDJAMMER (Return Engagement)
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: December 25, 1959
Duration: 22 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinemiracle
Hype: “So vast is the canvas upon which the adventurous thrills of CINEMIRACLE are painted that the management of this theatre made structural changes in order to bring you CINEMIRACLE in all its exclusive original dimensions.”

THIS IS CINERAMA (Return Engagement)
Theater: Palace
Premiere: June 28, 1961
Duration: 14 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Exciting news for Chicago!!! Cinerama is coming again. First time in the world at popular prices! Nothing cut but the prices!”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Return Engagement)
Theater: Palace
Premiere: October 4, 1961
Duration: 15 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “See it today… Talk about it tomorrow! Seven Wonders Of The World in the 8th wonder of Cinerama”

CINERAMA HOLIDAY (Return Engagement)
Theater: Palace
Premiere: January 17, 1962
Duration: 11 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “New Thrills! New Excitement!”

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: August 8, 1962
Duration: 29 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Cinerama present The First Full Length Dramatic Story In Cinerama With A Dazzling Array Of Stars In Fascinating Roles…It Puts YOU In The Picture!”

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: February 27, 1963
Duration: 37 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: McVickers
Premiere: November 19, 1963
Duration: 33 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Biggest Entertainment Ever To Hit The Cinerama Screen!”

CIRCUS WORLD
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: July 8, 1964
Duration: 15 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Surrounds You With The Greatest Thrill-Packed Story Ever Filmed!”

THE BEST OF CINERAMA
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: October 21, 1964
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Now You Are Catapulted Across Five Continents And 100 Centuries! Cinerama’s Greatest All-Time Thrills Presented For The First Time In One Exciting Cinerama Production!”

MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY
Theater: Cinestage
Premiere: December 25, 1964
Duration: 13 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Has Thrilled You With This Is Cinerama, Seven Wonders Of The World, South Seas Adventure, Windjammer And Now The New Cinerama Production Mediterranean Holiday”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: March 10, 1965
Duration: 29 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: None

THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: September 28, 1965
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful, Fun-Trail!”

BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: December 22, 1965
Duration: 14 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “At Last! The Super Action Show In Super Cinerama”

RUSSIAN ADVENTURE
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: March 29, 1966 (World Premiere)
Duration: 11 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama/Kinopanorama
Hype: “You’re here…there…everywhere! Only the original 3-Camera Cinerama is marvel enough to plunge you into the most incredible adventure of all!”

KHARTOUM
Theater: McVickers
Premiere: June 22, 1966
Duration: 11 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Where The Nile Divides, The Great Cinerama Adventure Begins!”

GRAND PRIX
Theater: Cinestage
Premiere: January 25, 1967
Duration: 24 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Sweeps You Into A Drama Of Speed And Spectacle”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Theater: Cinestage
Premiere: April 11, 1968
Duration: 36 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “An Epic Drama Of Adventure And Exploration!”

ICE STATION ZEBRA
Theater: Cinestage
Premiere: April 17, 1969
Duration: 10 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Ice Station Zebra…remember the name, your life may depend on it!”

KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA
Theater: Cinestage
Premiere: June 26, 1969
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The New Super Cinerama Hurls You Into The Incredible Day That Shook The Earth To Its Core!”

THIS IS CINERAMA (Re-Issue)
Theater: Edens 2
Premiere: June 13, 1973
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “This Is Cinerama Is Back To Entertain A Whole New Generation”

Future postings will focus on other markets, enabling the reader to compare how Cinerama was handled in different regions. For example, markets varied on which films played, the duration of an engagement, the sequence in which the films were released, the manner in which they were promoted, which films were re-issued, which Cinerama theaters were custom-built vs. retrofit older venues, etc.

Compiled by Michael Coate

Sources: Chicago Tribune and Variety.

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