Biggest Non IMAX/Cinerama single theater screens ????
posted by optimist008 on September 5, 2008 at 7:45 am
I was flipping through a pile of 1960’s Boxoffice magazines and saw one or two profiles of single screen theaters built during the 1960’s with screens that were as large as 80 and 90 plus feet. How common was this back then? These were not Cinerama screens…
Prior to reading about these mammoth screen sizes, 30'x 63' was the largest I had seen and those both located in New Jersey; one was General Cinema’s Cherry Hill location, the other was the Route 4, Paramus Stanley Warner theater.
Most of these screens were used for many widescreen formats during the 1960’s, only to be cut up into smaller theaters in the decades that followed.
I have a page on my blog where I list the largest, operational feature film screens. The info is hard to come by, but here’s what I have:
1) 86' Arclight Cinerama Dome
2) 85' Ontario Palace “Grand Palace” (Screen 11)
3) 80' Edwards Big Newport 6 (screen 1)
4) 78' Continental
5) 70' Ontario Palace “Hollywood” (Screen 1)
5) 70' Ontario Palace “Chinese” (Screen 22)
5) 70' Uptown Theatre, Washington DC
8) 68' Seattle Cinerama
I welcome any corrections!
I know from the days my dad used to work there, that the General Cinema Menlo Park in Edison N.J. had a screen that was 30'X 65' prior to its twinning in 1976. Although not quite as large, the former National General Fox Theatre in Woodbridge N.J. had a 58' wide curved screen, and the Walter Reade in Woodbridge, prior to GCC taking it over and twinning it, had a 55' wide screen, with both moveable top and side maskings. Great theatres, great screens, great times. Nothing today compares, I’m sorry.
AS to Jonesy’s list, I could be incorrect, but I thought Grauman’s Chinese is in same league. This website says it is 80 feet wide:
It was a fantastic pleasure to see “Lord of the Rings” at Salt Lake City’s magnificent Villa Theatre.
Gracing the stage in this late 1940’s art moderne gem was a 93 foot curved screen AND traveler curtains, YES, 93 foot!!!
They don’t show movies anymore but have an excellent display of carpets for sale.
Sorry, I almost forgot… they had the 3 Cinerama projections booths there and further more boys and girls… we had stadium seating in the post war days, just as good as what is now installed in these 21st century black shoe boxes they now show movies in!
Graumans Chinese is 60 feet. 65 tops.
Villa’s screen 78 feet wide for time “Lord of the Rings” was shown:
I wish there were more of these great big cinemas, and that the older classics, such as West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, Wizard of Oz, to name afew, would be shown on them.
The St. Louis Fox claimed a 70' wide screen; the St. Louis up the street claimed a 65".
Too bad there’s never, ever been a theatre like that in Boston.
The Charles Cinema in Boston was known for its large screen, but I don’t know how large it was.
the Charles Cinema was great. Its screen was 50 feet wide.
I think the Chinese Theater in Hollywood is one of the largest. 80 feet does sound right. Perhaps some have not seen it fully expanded for a 70mm presentation. They mask of a lot when it is not a widescreen film. Titanic there was fantastic.
you’re forgetting though 70mm is traditionally 2.20 Films can get as wide as 2.76 Cinemascope films were 2.55 Seeing a re-issue of ‘Ben Hur’ (2.76) at the Uptown theatre here in DC was amazing, watching the curtain unveil the screen, wider, wider, wider… whah!
I have fond memories of the Charles Cinema in Boston…and I miss it.
Oh, btw, thanks for the info, HowardBHaas. I wasn’t sure how large it was either, but I knew it was rather big.
The Southtown Theatre in Bloomington,Mn had an 80 ft screen. It was a single screen and built by Mann in 1964 and seating was 1260. In 1970 in was sold to General Cinema. It also had a stage. In 1980 the screen was split making both theatres seating 540. After the split part on the stage still remained. When it opened it was praised as the biggest screen in the midwest.
General Cinema had a 30 year lease renewable at their option. In 1995 General Cinema gave in and sold out and the mall took it down for some stores.
talking about a mall converting it’s theatre to form new stores, I remember seeing many movies at Pentagon Mall here in the DC area. It had by far the best audio setup, it’s Sony Digital Dynamic Sound system rivalled and superceded, in my opinion, the Uptown theater’s.
on a different subject, I was over at Tyson’s last Friday and the IMAX ‘Coming soon’ banner is up, yet when I asked which auditorium was getting the conversion, the manager stated it was either going to be #1 or 3, I expressed my opinion that it better be #3 – that audiorium’s screen is immense and most ideal.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood was re-vamped in 1958 for the World Premier of the CineMiracle movie “Windjammer.” The screen installed measured 100 ft. x 40 ft. I am unaware if that screen was ever removed. I’ve seen CinemaScope and Panavision70 films there since, and there is a lot more screen than there is movie!
The original screen in the Charles theatre in Boston was well over 50". The cinemascope screen in the Metropolitan(Music Hall) (Wang theatre in Boston was also very wide.
Back in October 1953 (yeah, that’s a ways back!) I was taken to the Fox Theatre in Detroit to see the first CinemaScope film released, “The Robe,” as the birthday gift I wanted. Does anyone know how wide the screen was at the Fox?