Remembering Cinerama (Part 22: Detroit)

posted by Coate on March 17, 2009 at 10:03 am

REMEMBERING CINERAMA
Part 22: Detroit

The following is Part Twenty-two 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, D.C.
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

And now… Part 22: Cinerama Presentations in Detroit, Michigan!

A Work in Progress

THIS IS CINERAMA
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: March 23, 1953
Engagement Duration: 100 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Promotional Hype: “Detroit Premiere… the biggest thing that ever stunned an audience!”

CINERAMA HOLIDAY
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: February 15, 1955
Duration: 77 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “A Whole World Of Entertainment Awaits You. And You Can See It Only At The Music Hall! Cannot And Will Not Be Shown In Any Local Or Neighborhood Theatre!”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: August 14, 1956
Duration: 79 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The New…The 3rd CINERAMA!”

SEARCH FOR PARADISE
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: February 11, 1958
Duration: 34 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Far Beyond The Limits Of Human Imagination!”

SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: October 8, 1958
Duration: 77 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Escape With The New CINERAMA Adventure To The Moon-Drenched Mystery-Washed South Seas!”

WINDJAMMER
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: March 23, 1960
Duration: 39 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Produced in CINEMIRACLE, Presented in CINERAMA”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Return Engagement)
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: December 25, 1960
Duration: 22 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

THIS IS CINERAMA (Return Engagement)
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: May 29, 1961
Duration: 16 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

WINDJAMMER (Return Engagement)
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: September 18, 1961
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

HOLIDAY IN SPAIN
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: May 25, 1962
Duration: 10 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: Music Hall
Premiere: August 8, 1962
Duration: 30 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The first dramatic story-telling motion picture in fabulous CINERAMA!”

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: March 6, 1963
Duration: 49 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: Music Hall
Premiere: February 11, 1964
Duration: 55 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Rock The CINERAMA Screen With Laughter!”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: March 9, 1965
Duration: 23 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: None

CIRCUS WORLD
Theater: Summit
Premiere: March 16, 1965
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Surrounds You With The Greatest Thrill-Packed Story Ever Filmed!”

MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY
Theater: Summit
Premiere: May 4, 1965
Duration: 10 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)

THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL
Theater: Summit
Premiere: July 20, 1965
Duration: 18 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful, Fun-Trail!”

SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE (Return Engagement)
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: August 1, 1965
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)

THE BEST OF CINERAMA
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: September 29, 1965
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “CINERAMA’s Greatest All-Time Thrills Presented For The First Time In One Exciting CINERAMA Production!”

BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Theater: Summit
Premiere: December 25, 1965
Duration: 17 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “At Last! The Super Action Show In Super Cinerama”

RUSSIAN ADVENTURE
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: April 1, 1966
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)

MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY (Return Engagement)
Theater: Summit
Premiere: April 25, 1966
Duration: ? weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)

KHARTOUM
Theater: Music Hall
Premiere: June 22, 1966
Duration: 11 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Where The Nile Divides, Their Mighty Conflict Begins!”

GRAND PRIX
Theater: Summit
Premiere: January 25, 1967
Duration: 38 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA sweeps YOU into a drama of speed and spectacle!”

CUSTER OF THE WEST
Theater: Summit
Premiere: January 25, 1968
Duration: 11 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “A man too big for legend. A motion picture too big for any screen except CINERAMA!”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Theater: Summit
Premiere: April 10, 1968
Duration: 47 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “An Epic Drama Of Adventure And Exploration!”

ICE STATION ZEBRA
Theater: Summit
Premiere: March 5, 1969
Duration: 16 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Ice Station Zebra…remember the name, your life may depend on it!”

KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA
Theater: Summit
Premiere: June 26, 1969
Duration: 11 weeks
Format: Cinerama (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: Northland
Premiere: April 18, 1973
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “THIS IS CINERAMA Is Back To Entertain A Whole New Generation”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (Re-Issue)
Theater: Summit
Premiere: 1977
Duration: ? weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Before STAR WARS There Was…And There Always Will Be 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY…Now In CINERAMA, 70mm & 6-Track Stereophonic Sound”

TRIVIA:
Detroit’s Music Hall was Cinerama installation #2.

The Detroit market played every domestically-available Cinerama release, the only market in the United States to have done so.

Compiled by Michael Coate

Source: Boxoffice, The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, Variety, and “Motor City Marquees: A Comprehensive, Illustrated Reference to Motion Picture Theaters in the Detroit Area, 1906-1992" (Stuart Galbraith IV, McFarland, 1994)

Comments (6)

steelbeard1
steelbeard1 on March 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm

There’s a vintage article about the modifications made to the Music Hall to accomodate Cinerama at View link The Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts is a magnificent facility and a Detroit treasure. The Summit (formerly the Cass) is no more. The Northland was a suburban theater in Southfield which is now called the Millenium Centre.

JohnMLauter
JohnMLauter on March 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I worked as a projectionist at the summit in 1977 for the retro showing of 2001. Some of my fellow projectionist friends and I went to see the showing, were not impressed with the projection quality, the picture went off screen three times, there were sound system issues and the there were pieces of electrician’s tape on the film to mark splices. We talked to the entrepreneur who was subletting the theatre for this showing and ended up with the job! We were able to present seamless shows, in focus, with good sound in short order. The run was from mid July to late August that summer. The guy we worked for would come into the booth at intermission and smoke a joint then go sit in the seats to watch the light show sequence.
Near the end of the run it was announced that the building was going to be demolished that fall, the owners wanted to take down the theatre and leave the attached office building, a consulting engineer told them that wasn’t feasible, that the office building north wall would collapse when the theatre was taken down. The building (Commerce building) was full of quality tenants; UPI and AP had their Detroit offices there, as did “Kelley girl” and other good firms. They were all sent elsewhere and the building was demoed. During the demo process they discovered that the consulting engineer was wrong, the office building stood on its own just fine after the theatre came down, but it was too late. We began negotiating the acquisition of the Norelco AA-II projectors in the Summit for the Redford theatre in northwest Detroit. During that negation period the Star Wars 70 MM mini-renaissance began, making the booth more valuable. It looked like a guy from California was going to get the booth, but the owners stayed in negations for so long they were up against the demolition of the building and the party from California couldn’t get back to take the booth out. We got it, and removed it in early October 1977. We were allowed to take anything else we wanted in the building, we took new electrical service panels that had been recently installed in the UPI offices, and a new suspended ceiling from the Kelley Girl offices. All of these items went into the re-working of the Redford booth. Our only real expense was wire to hook everything up.
The Summit was a classy house, it had been built and used as the Cass theatre, one of Detroit’s legitimate stage houses, and it lost that honor with the reopening of the remodeled Fisher in the new center area. Even after it was converted to Cinerama the wood paneled lobbies and marble foyer were beautiful. The auditorium was covered in Pepto-Bismol pink drapes and the woodwork was painted to match. I was at the DuMochelle auction; the big chandelier went for $6,000.

ChasSmith
ChasSmith on May 18, 2009 at 10:58 am

This weekend I was going through some old papers. When I unearthed a newspaper clipping (unrelated to anything here) that I’d kept around, I just about fell off my chair when I saw what was included on it, perfectly preserved:

http://home.comcast.net/~chasmith7/theaters/2001 at Summit.pdf

I was spending the summers of 1968 and 1969 in nearby Rochester. In 1968 I had just recently seen “2001” in Cleveland, and one evening I dragged some friends into Detroit for their first shot at it. I wish I could conjure up more than the vaguest memories of the theater itself! I remember we were seated in the balcony, but that’s about it.

ChasSmith
ChasSmith on May 18, 2009 at 11:07 am

My apologies if that url isn’t working.
Try it this way:

http://tinyurl.com/pgaank

Coate
Coate on May 19, 2009 at 1:30 am

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

Jack Dold
Jack Dold on July 22, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I remember taking my high-school sweetheart, Nancy, to see “Cinerama Holiday” in Detroit. We went by train from Fort Wayne, Indiana and returned the same day. While in Detroit, we enjoyed a “taxi tour” of the city. It was our first trip “out of town” and quite a negotiation between me and her parents!

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