Remembering Cinerama (Part 44: Sacramento)

posted by Coate on December 14, 2009 at 9:45 am

Part 44: Sacramento

The following is Part Forty-Four 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 historical record of when and where Cinerama and its multi-panel clones were exhibited. The easy-to-reference articles 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 screenings took place.

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
Part 32: Kansas City
Part 33: Milwaukee
Part 34: Nanuet/Rockland County
Part 35: Denver
Part 36: Worcester
Part 37: Toledo
Part 38: St. Louis
Part 39: Tampa
Part 40: Calgary
Part 41: Hartford
Part 42: Albany
Part 43: New Haven

And now…Part 44: Cinerama Presentations in Sacramento, California!

Theater: Esquire
Premiere Date: October 11, 1963
Engagement Duration: 10 weeks
Presentation Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Promotional Hype: “It happens to YOU! Something wonderful in motion picture entertainment!” “There’s only one CINERAMA and it puts YOU in the picture!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: December 18, 1963
Duration: 26 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The Great Dramatic Motion Picture That Puts You In Every Scene!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: June 23, 1964
Duration: 29 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Rock The CINERAMA Screen With Laughter!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: January 15, 1965
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD as seen through the greatest wonder…CINERAMA!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: March 23, 1965
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Puts You in the Middle of the Most Action-Filled Story You’ve Ever Seen!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: May 12, 1965
Duration: 4 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Escape with the new CINERAMA to the Sun-Splashed, Moon-Drenched, Mystery-Washed South Seas!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: June 9, 1965
Duration: 2 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Far Beyond The Limits Of Human Imagination!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: June 23, 1965
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “An Electrifying Breath-Taking Adventure and Glorious Romance!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: August 18, 1965
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful Fun-Trail!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: October 13, 1965
Duration: 18 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “A Rich, Rewarding Entertainment Experience for the Entire Family”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: February 16, 1966
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Unlike anything you’ve ever seen before as CINERAMA hurls you into the most extraordinary days of World War II”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: August 31, 1966
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Where The Nile Divides, The Great CINERAMA Adventure Begins!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: March 15, 1967
Duration: 28 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA sweeps YOU into a drama of speed and spectacle!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: February 15, 1968 (West Coast Premiere)
Duration: 5 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “From the fury and chaos of the Civil War, to the glory days of the 7th Cavalry to the final earth-shaking charge at Little Big Horn!” “Told in all the sweep and spectacle of CINERAMA”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: June 26, 1968
Duration: 35 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “An astounding entertainment experience, a dazzling trip to the planets and beyond the stars!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: May 28, 1969
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Ice Station Zebra…remember the name, your life may depend on it!”

Theater: Esquire
Premiere: July 16, 1969
Duration: 10 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “The New CINERAMA Hurls You Into The Incredible Day That Shook The Earth To Its Core!”

THIS IS CINERAMA 1973 re-issue

Sacramento was the 58th of 60 cities in the United States to equip for 3-panel CINERAMA presentations.

While there have been no known official CINERAMA presentations at the Tower, during 1967 the Tower boasted THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE “will be shown on our New Giant Cinerama Screen. The finest sound and projection in Northern California.”

Geography/Premiere weirdness: The opening of CUSTER OF THE WEST in Sacramento was promoted as the film’s west coast premiere (even though Sacramento is located nearly 100 miles inland) because the film did not play as a reserved-seat CINERAMA attraction in Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Diego. CUSTER did play a reserved-seat CINERAMA run in Portland (and opened there three weeks before Sacramento), but the film industry apparently considers Portland located in the Pacific Northwest.

Compiled by Michael Coate

Reference: The Sacramento Bee

Theaters in this post

Comments (74)

Cobalt on December 14, 2009 at 3:31 pm

I’m pleased to see the Cinerama series return. It had been a couple of months since the last posting, and I was afraid you had discontinued the series.

Thanks, Michael! Fascinating stuff.

JohnRice on December 14, 2009 at 6:50 pm

It continues to amaze me how slowly Cinerama spread across the country. I grew up in the Bay Area so I saw all of the three strip travelogs at the San Francisco Orpheum during the period 1952-1959. In 1959 I joined the Army. While stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas in 1961-1962 I saw the whole travelog cycle start all over again at El Paso’s Capri Theatre. After being discharged from the Army in 1962 I settled in Sacramento and a year later, as noted above, once again the cycle started at the Esquire with “This Is Cinerama” opening 11 years after it had opened in San Francisco, only 80 miles down the road.

I have a fuzzy memory of an official announcement that the Tower would become Sacramento’s second Cinerama theater (single strip 70mm only by this time of course) but I guess the format was loosing steam big time by then (how low can you go after “Krakatoa, East of Java”?) so those plans were scrapped. I vaguely remember a big wide curved screen but don’t recall anything in 70mm ever projected on it.

Amazing and interesting series Michael! Thanks for your hard work in compiling it!

JSA on December 14, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Interesting to see that “Windjammer” was advertised in Cinerama. I suppose that the Cinemiracle format did not have enough steam after a few years.


William on December 15, 2009 at 10:44 am

It’s not that Cinemiracle didn’t have enough steam, but Cinerama bought the format and company.

terrywade on December 15, 2009 at 5:40 pm

I think the Tower put in the D-150 curved screen

Nunzienick on December 16, 2009 at 12:14 am

Surprising to see “Search for Paradise” ran for only 2 weeks. Hard to believe a new Cinerama attraction played for such a short time. I would venture to guess that in certain markets audiences were beginning to grow just a little weary of the travelogs. I say certain markets since “Search for Paradise” seemed to play better in several other cities. As always Michael, a fantastic job!

CSWalczak on December 16, 2009 at 3:49 am

‘Search for Paradise" came out in 1957, so it was about seven-eight years old by the time it got to Sacramento in 1965; I would think that many people who lived in Sacramento probably saw the travelogue films in San Francisco originally.

Bud K
Bud K on December 16, 2009 at 10:06 am

Growing up in Sacramento, I remember my Parents taking me to see Cinerama at the Esquire, However if you look at dates above, three strip Cinerama only had a run of 2 years before everything went 70mm.

I am sure you are correct that the Tower had a D-150 screen as the only other one in the Sacramento area was the Cinema 150(Crestview Cinema)in Carmichael.

The movie I remember the most was “The Greatest Story ever told"
with a special book you received when you entered, everyone all dressed up and for a 9 year old it is still a living memory!

philbertgray on December 16, 2009 at 12:17 pm

A quick FYI about the Esquire theatre. The theatre in Sacramento was twinned sometime in the 80s. After a few years it was gutted and the building converted to offices. The facade and marque were kept intact. In early 2000 the the theatre auditorium was demolished and replaced with an Imax auditorium. The builders retained the original facade along with the original Esquire sign. The Imax auditorium is huge and almost overwhelms the original facade and sign. Sacramento has restored the Crest Theatre which is a few blocks down from the Esquire.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 16, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Just curious — how many more installments will there be? How many US and Canadian markets got Cinerama during its history?

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on December 17, 2009 at 7:14 am

Ron—Click on Toledo and as you scroll down you will see that Michael made up a list of what you want.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on December 21, 2009 at 7:11 am

Ron—I forgot to mention a great site
see 312 CINERAMA Theaters around the world by clicking on CINERAMA THEATERS.

dickneeds111 on July 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm

To BKRESS. You said the 3 strip Cinerama had only a 2 year run in Sacramwento. To bad they installed so late. We here in Boston had 10 year run of 3 strip before 70mm Its A Mad Mad Mad world. Some cities had 2-3 Cinerama theatres. We had only 1. If you look at the list for Boston you will see the Beacon Hill theatre listed. This is wrong because it only showed This Is Cinerama in a 70mm Re-issue in 1973. Alarge almost flat screen and fair stereo. More people walked out than were coming in. It managed a 5 week run.

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