Remembering Cinerama (Part 19: Boston)

posted by Coate on January 26, 2009 at 8:00 am

REMEMBERING CINERAMA
Part 19: Boston

The following is Part Nineteen in a series of retrospectives on Cinerama, the legendary motion picture process that kicked off the widescreen revolution. The series focuses on providing a market-by-market, film-by-film, historical record of when and where Cinerama and its multi-panel clones were exhibited. The easy-to-reference articles also serve to provide nostalgia to those who experienced the Cinerama presentations when they were new and to highlight the movie palaces in which the memorable events took place.

Part 1: New York
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

And now…Part 19: Cinerama Presentations in Boston!

A Work in Progress

THIS IS CINERAMA
Theater: Boston
Premiere: December 30, 1953
Engagement Duration: 87 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Promotional Hype: “New England Premiere! Something Wonderful in motion picture entertainment! For the first time, a motion picture reaches out to bring you into the story…to put you in the picture with the intensely personal experience of all its excitement and thrills. The Boston is the only theatre in the New England area that can or will be able to present this miracle of entertainment!”

CINERAMA HOLIDAY
Theater: Boston
Premiere: August 30, 1955
Duration: 52 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “A Whole World Of Entertainment Awaits You. And You Can See It Only At The Boston Theatre!”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
Theater: Boston
Premiere: August 27, 1956
Duration: 64 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The New…The 3rd CINERAMA!”

SEARCH FOR PARADISE
Theater: Boston
Premiere: November 19, 1957
Duration: 40 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

WINDJAMMER
Theater: Boston
Premiere: August 27, 1958
Duration: 33 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Produced in CINEMIRACLE, Presented in CINERAMA”

SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE
Theater: Boston
Premiere: April 15, 1959
Duration: 53 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

THIS IS CINERAMA (Return Engagement)
Theater: Boston
Premiere: April 26, 1960
Duration: 29 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

CINERAMA HOLIDAY (Return Engagement)
Theater: Boston
Premiere: November 15, 1960
Duration: 14 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Return Engagement)
Theater: Boston
Premiere: February 22, 1961
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

WINDJAMMER (Return Engagement)
Theater: Boston
Premiere: May 15, 1961
Duration: 23 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

SEARCH FOR PARADISE (Return Engagement)
Theater: Boston
Premiere: October 23, 1961
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE (Return Engagement)
Theater: Boston
Premiere: January 17, 1962
Duration: 16 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

HOLIDAY IN SPAIN
Theater: Boston
Premiere: May 7, 1962
Duration: 13 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Now CINERAMA Takes You On A Manhunt… A Suspense Hunt… A Thrill Hunt… Across An Exotic World Of Excitement!”

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Theater: Boston
Premiere: August 7, 1962
Duration: 26 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The first dramatic story-telling motion picture in fabulous CINERAMA!”

THE BEST OF CINERAMA
Theater: Boston
Premiere: February 6, 1963
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “It’s CINERAMA’s Greatest Moments In One Far-Flung, Fantastic, Unforgettable Adventure!”

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Theater: Boston
Premiere: March 27, 1963
Duration: 33 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The Great Dramatic Motion Picture That Puts You In Every Scene!”

IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD
Theater: Boston
Premiere: November 19, 1963
Duration: 31 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Rock The CINERAMA Screen With Laughter!”

CIRCUS WORLD
Theater: Boston
Premiere: June 25, 1964
Duration: 18 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Surrounds You With The Greatest Thrill-Packed Story Ever Filmed!”

MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY
Theater: Boston
Premiere: October 27, 1964
Duration: 20 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Theater: Boston
Premiere: March 1965
Duration: 28 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: None

THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL
Theater: Boston
Premiere: September 28, 1965
Duration: 13 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful, Fun-Trail!”

BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Theater: Boston
Premiere: December 1965
Duration: 21 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “At Last! The Super Action Show In Super Cinerama”

MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY (Return Engagement)
Theater: Boston
Premiere: May 20, 1966
Duration: 5 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)

KHARTOUM
Theater: Boston
Premiere: June 22, 1966
Duration: 14 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Where The Nile Divides, The Great CINERAMA Adventure Begins!”

RUSSIAN ADVENTURE
Theater: Boston
Premiere: September 28, 1966
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)

GRAND PRIX
Theater: Boston
Premiere: December 22, 1966
Duration: 36 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA sweeps YOU into a drama of speed and spectacle!”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Theater: Boston
Premiere: April 10, 1968
Duration: 36 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “An Epic Drama Of Adventure And Exploration!”

ICE STATION ZEBRA
Theater: Boston
Premiere: December 18, 1968
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Ice Station Zebra…remember the name, your life may depend on it!”

THIS IS CINERAMA (Re-Issue)
Theater: Beacon Hill
Premiere: April 1973
Duration: 5 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “THIS IS CINERAMA Is Back To Entertain A Whole New Generation”

NEVER SHOWN IN CINERAMA:
CUSTER OF THE WEST
KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA (70mm non-reserved-seat engagement at Gary)

TRIVIA:
The Boston Theatre was Cinerama installation #10.

Compiled by Michael Coate

Source: The Boston Globe and Variety

Comments (19)

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 26, 2009 at 8:43 am

from Beacon Hill page:
An odd thing about this theatre was that the subway ran fairly close behind the screen vibrating the entire house when it did.
They showed a ripoff revival of ‘This Is Cinerama’ one time. Supposedly a new lens enabled them to show Cinerama with one projector. A manager who worked there at the time told me during that run they had 2 boxoffice lines. One waiting to buy tickets and another waiting for refunds.
Supposed to be a scary place to work because of it being 2-3 floors below street level anything could happen and no one outside would notice anything.
posted by BJY on Jan 5, 2005 at 10:11am

MPol
MPol on January 26, 2009 at 9:04 am

Glad to see that there’s now a Boston chapter of the Cinerama. I was too young to see most of those films, since I was a young preteen when most of them came out, but some of the other films that came out in the 1960’s I could’ve seen with no problems. I was a kid growing up in a suburb, so I didn’t get to go to movies as often as I would’ve if I’d grown up in or closer to the city. Too bad about the subway causing the theatre to vibrate. Scary! Didn’t know there were lines for refunds. Nowadays, one has to wait in line with the rest of them in order to get refunds. Wierd. Sign of the times, I guess.

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on January 26, 2009 at 4:02 pm

I wonder if the films were shown intact or did the hands of the censors make cuts to the films like they did with others.

Also, that’s a pretty amazing run of Cinerama for one theatre.

MPol
MPol on January 26, 2009 at 4:04 pm

That’s a good question, KingBiscuits. It wouldn’t be surprising, if that was the case.

MPol
MPol on January 27, 2009 at 8:27 am

Oh, btw, I did see “2001: A Space Odyssey” when it first came out 41 years ago. Good movie. I’ve seen it at least 2-3 times since, each time forgetting how freaky it is.

Coate
Coate on January 27, 2009 at 8:46 am
*I wonder if the films were shown intact or did the hands of the censors make cuts to the films like they did with others.*


Huh?

telliott
telliott on January 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

That’s what I was thinking Michael…what cuts??

MovieMatty
MovieMatty on January 27, 2009 at 2:54 pm

I think KingBiscuits is referring to the late Richard Sinnott, who served from 1960-80 as the City of Boston’s “official censor” (and the catalyst for the famed term “Banned In Boston”).

Coate
Coate on May 18, 2009 at 11:27 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

danpetitpas
danpetitpas on October 12, 2009 at 5:22 pm

The Beacon Hill had a Stanley Kubrick film festival in 1974 (I believe) and showed the uncut 2001: A Space Odyssey in SuperPanavision 70 in quadraphonic sound. So not quite Cinerama, but a great experience anyway. During the “apes” sequences in the beginning of the film, you could hear the apes all around you from the four channels. It was the best sound I had heard in a theater.

By the way, the Boston Theater is the RKO Boston. I guess they renamed it because RKO was a competing film company at the time.

hvsteve1
hvsteve1 on December 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm

I saw How The West Was Won and it was technically awful. My friends and I were working our way through school at various movie houses so I knew that the theater’s failure to replace aging filaments was the reason the color temperatures on the three screens was so far off. It didn’t make that much of a difference in regular 35mm projection, but in Cinerama, where the screns were supposed to blend into one big picture, it was a disaster. I also recall the three screens not being perfectly aligned. Equipment back then wasn’t as “nailed down” as it is now and, as an earlier poster pointed out, the subway vibrated the building. Maybe one reason Cinerama didn’t last was the failure to enforce quality control on the theaters playing it.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 27, 2009 at 8:01 pm

“the subway vibrated the building” above referred to the Beacon Hill, not the RKO-Boston Cinerama which showed the film that you saw.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on February 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Like Ron said the Beacon Hill was where they showed the flat screen revival of This is Cinerama supposedly in 70mm. I and my wife were 2 of those in line to get out. Also this is the theatre where you heard the subway trains running by. We saw Little Big Man and The Towering Inferno there and the trains were very annoying.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on March 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm

How come you say that Boston was installatio #10 and then later on St. Louis you say they were #10. For years I had always read that Boston was #5. Give us a correction.

Coate
Coate on May 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

dick… No correction is needed. If you read closely what I wrote you’ll see that what I claimed was the Boston Theater was Cinerama installation #10 and that St. Louis was the 10th market to show Cinerama. The first theater in St. Louis to show Cinerama (Ambassador) was installation #11. The theater and market numbers do not correspond because by the time Boston and St. Louis started showing Cinerama, one market (New York) had two Cinerama installations.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on May 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thanks Coate, now I understand. And to King Biscuits: I hope that you were being only sarcastic about snipping(censoring) Cinerama films. It never happened. Mr Sinnott was nuts and the old feeling about Boston censoring all movies was just not true. Mostly European were snipped but most got by. Movies like I am Curious Yellow/Blue, Deep Throat, Debbie Does Dallas and even Ecstasy with Hedy Lamarr back in the day were ran uncut for Boston Audiences. Legitimate theatre was watched more closely like Hair and Oh Calcutta. Movie like I am curious yellow and plays like Hair were both raided by the cops but reopened within a week with the Judges approval uncut. I happened to be at the 2 that I mentioned. In fact I went back to see them both after they re-opened. Not very many movies were really snipped here. I bet more were not shown or really cut down south or in the Bible Belt than were here.Sorry to get on the Band Box but I like protecting Boston because we were the #1 Box Office city prior to the closing of so many Big Theatres, ship shod management, especially Sack(USA) Lowes and some other chains. We must now go to the suburbs and visit the little band box multi screens like everywhere else or visit the Lowes Common or the Regal Fenway 14, both with fake IMAX or RPX systems.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on July 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

How do I get in touch with the Boston Cinerama Chapter or is the site?

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on February 22, 2013 at 10:15 am

Boston must have been one of the only cities with 1 Cinerama theatre continuously. They ran Cinerama 3 strip and 70mm For 20yrs. Did any other major US city do this? The RKO Boston theatre was changed to Boston theatre after the advent of Cinerama. It was always The RKO way back to the 20’s.

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on March 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm

To Howard Haas. When This is Cinerama in 70mm played here in Boston it played at the non Cinerama Beacon theatre. It was a medium size Flat Screen and lousy stereo. This is the theatre that the subway ran under, not the Boston Cinerama theatre as you mentioned. Saw a few other movies Little Big Man and Towering Inferno at the Beacon. Lousy projection and sound and what was really annoying was the subway noise every 10mins or less. The Boston Cinerama theatre was terrific. Saw 5 of the 3strips there. HTWWW was projected beautifully with great sound and I sat in the 1st row of the balcony. Saw WWOTBG in 3 strip at the San Diego Cinerama. Saw 2001 in 70mm, Cinerama in San Francisco and also at the Seattle Cinerama. What a great theatre. Saw Ice Station Zebra at the Providence Cinerama. A very nice old theatre remodeled and similar in design as the San Diego Cinerama. Both owned by Lockwood & Gordon theatres. Saw a couple of 3strips at the Warner in D.C. Also Greatest Story Ever Told in 70mm Cinerama at the Uptown in D.C. Projected lousy. Finally I saw a 70mm blowup of Doctor Zhivago at the Rotterdam, Holland Cinerama. Looked great. Had already seen it before at the Florida theatre in Pensacola in 35mm. It looked good but the 70mm print blew it out of the water.

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