Remembering Cinerama (Part 29: Pittsburgh)

posted by Coate on May 1, 2009 at 7:49 am

REMEMBERING CINERAMA
Part 29: Pittsburgh

The following is Part Twenty-nine 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 City
Part 2: Chicago
Part 3: San Francisco
Part 4: Houston
Part 5: Washington, DC
Part 6: Los Angeles
Part 7: Atlanta UPDATED
Part 8: San Diego
Part 9: Dallas
Part 10: Oklahoma City
Part 11: Syracuse
Part 12: Toronto UPDATED
Part 13: Columbus
Part 14: Montreal
Part 15: Northern New Jersey
Part 16: Charlotte UPDATED
Part 17: Vancouver
Part 18: Salt Lake City UPDATED
Part 19: Boston
Part 20: Philadelphia UPDATED
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

And now… Part 29: Cinerama Presentations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!

THIS IS CINERAMA
Theater: Warner
Premiere: December 8, 1953
Engagement Duration: 63 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Promotional Hype: “The Only Really New Wonder Of The Motion Picture World!”

CINERAMA HOLIDAY
Theater: Warner
Premiere: February 16, 1955 (Pennsylvania Co-Premiere)
Duration: 62 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “It’s Every Holiday You Ever Dreamed Of… Come True!” “The New, the 2nd CINERAMA Presentation”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
Theater: Warner
Premiere: April 19, 1956
Duration: 47 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD as seen through the greatest wonder… CINERAMA!” “The New, the 3rd CINERAMA Presentation”

SEARCH FOR PARADISE
Theater: Warner
Premiere: October 3, 1957
Duration: 38 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “CINERAMA returns to Pittsburgh!”

WINDJAMMER
Theater: Warner
Premiere: September 11, 1958 (Pennsylvania Premiere)
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Produced in CINEMIRACLE, Presented in CINERAMA.” “The wondrous voyage of youth. Climb aboard for 17,000 miles of romance and adventure!”

SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE
Theater: Warner
Premiere: December 23, 1958 (Pennsylvania Premiere)
Duration: 20 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “New and Never To Be Forgotten!”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Return Engagement)
Theater: Warner
Premiere: May 13, 1959
Duration: 3 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD as seen through the greatest wonder… CINERAMA!”

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Theater: Warner
Premiere: August 8, 1962 (Pennsylvania Co-Premiere)
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and CINERAMA Present The First Full Length Dramatic Story In CINERAMA With A Dazzling Array Of Stars In Fascinating Roles”

THE BEST OF CINERAMA
Theater: Warner
Premiere: February 14, 1963 (Pennsylvania Premiere)
Duration: 5 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Now A Fabulous Wonder-Packed Experience Is Yours! Now You Become Part Of THE BEST OF CINERAMA.” “It’s Like Living Them For The First Time When You See CINERAMA’s Greatest Thrills All In One Fabulous Entertainment!”

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Theater: Warner
Premiere: March 21, 1963
Duration: 34 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: Warner
Premiere: December 18, 1963 (Pennsylvania Premiere)
Duration: 28 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Rock The CINERAMA Screen With Laughter!”

CIRCUS WORLD
Theater: Warner
Premiere: July 1, 1964
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Thrills! Danger! Suspense!”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Theater: Warner
Premiere: March 10, 1965
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “A Rich, Rewarding Entertainment Experience for the Entire Family”

THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL
Theater: Warner
Premiere: July 20, 1965 (Pennsylvania Premiere)
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful, Fun-Trail!”

BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Theater: Warner
Premiere: January 12, 1966
Duration: 15 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Unlike anything you have ever seen! The super action show in SUPER CINERAMA”

RUSSIAN ADVENTURE
Theater: Warner
Premiere: April 26, 1966 (Pennsylvania Premiere)
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “The original CINERAMA process brings you the fabulous adventure you’ve been waiting for!”

KHARTOUM
Theater: Warner
Premiere: July 14, 1966 (Pennsylvania Premiere)
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Where The Nile Divides, The Great CINERAMA Adventure Begins!”

GRAND PRIX
Theater: Warner
Premiere: June 14, 1967
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Brace yourself for CINERAMA thrills you’ve never experienced!” “CINERAMA puts you into the loves and lives of the men who are the heroes of the world’s most passionate adventure!”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Theater: Warner
Premiere: June 12, 1968
Duration: 22 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “An astounding entertainment experience, a dazzling trip to the planets and beyond the stars!”

ICE STATION ZEBRA
Theater: Warner
Premiere: November 13, 1968 (Pennsylvania Premiere)
Duration: 13 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Ice Station Zebra…remember the name, your life may depend on it!”

NOT SHOWN IN CINERAMA IN THE PITTSBURGH MARKET:
HOLIDAY IN SPAIN
MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY (35mm engagement at Squirrel Hill)
CUSTER OF THE WEST
KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA (70mm engagement at Squirrel Hill)
THIS IS CINERAMA 1973 re-issue

TRIVIA:
Pittsburgh was the 7th market to equip for Cinerama presentations.

Compiled by Michael Coate

References: Boxoffice, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Variety

Theaters in this post

Comments (11)

Coate
Coate on May 1, 2009 at 8:00 am

Some sources cite a second venue in Pittsburgh as being equipped for Cinerama presentations: North Hills. I can find no confirmation of this, nor can I find any record of any Cinerama presentations taking place at that venue.

Knucklehead
Knucklehead on May 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm

How many Cinerama theatres were there in total?

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 1, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Knucklehead: If you go to Roland Lataille’s excellent Cinerama website:

View link

you will count 141 theaters in the United States that showed Cinerama (3-strip and/or 70mm) at one time or another.

Knucklehead
Knucklehead on May 1, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Thanks. In glancing over that Cinerama web site list, it would appear some cities had more than one theatre. This interesting series seems to be presenting the Cinerama history by city, so I would like to revise my question to be: In how many cities was Cinerama?

veyoung52
veyoung52 on May 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

Mike asked me about the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Cinerama engagements. Here’s my reply (SFP meaning “Search For Paradise,” SW is “Stanley Warner,” “WJ” is “Windjammer,” and “BG” is “…Brothers Grimm):

You’ll notice a few interesting differences. Cinerama in PGH had always attracted Cleveland visitors, and I have in fact reproductions of railroad tickets and advertisements for the local Cleveland-to-Pittsburgh “see Cinerama” train run which had become extremely popular . Then, Cleveland opened 11/56, siphoning off the PGH business, and 7W began to fall off late that year. SW decided to temporarily – it was hoped – replace Cinerama which they could do according to the Dept of Justice SW-Cinerama agreement since they were already SW houses. So, “Ten Commandments” came in, and while it did well, I have some articles and letters-to-editors grousing about the extreme distortion caused by throwing the image onto the deep curve screen from the upstairs booth. I forget what they did surrounding and between the SFP and WJ engagements. Somewhere in there, they was an almost-roadshow engagement of the eagerly-awaited (at least by Warner Bros) “Old Man and The Sea.” I remember reading that advance boxoffice was so dismal that they cancelled the reserved seat run except for the premiere night, and Old Man on grind ran something like only a week or two. Same temporary interruption of Cinerama happened to the Boyd but not until the Spring of ‘58 when SFP really tanked, the Boyd then running 35mm grind and roadshow (“Gigi”) until WJ. Both took out Cinerama for Ben-Hur in 1959, and came back with a bang with BG.

I’ve yet to find an eyewitness who can tell me how SW de-Cinerama’d this install…as the ones I saw in DC, Philly,and NY were each different.

edblank
edblank on May 2, 2009 at 12:47 pm

“The Old Man and the Sea” played for four soft weeks (27 days, to be precise) at the Warner.

Mark_L
Mark_L on May 2, 2009 at 1:15 pm

So far, Mike has listed 74 theatres, which include 3 that only played THRILLARAMA and one that played 2 KINOPANORAMA pictures.

Of the theatres given so far, no theatre played all 24 CINERAMA films (Including THIS IS CINERAMA (70mm)). The IMPERIAL in Montreal played 23 of the films. That theatre also played the most “CINERAMA WEEKS” (weeks playing CINERAMA pictures) with 775.

So, it looks like things are about ½ way done. There are going to be some tough ones yet to go, though.

Coate
Coate on May 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm

As far as the number of “Cinerama cities” go, I think a more appropriate question is asking the number of markets that played Cinerama. Reason being that some markets had more than one Cinerama theater, often one downtown and others suburban. But a market having multiple equipped theaters is irrelevant because these Cinerama engagements were exclusive roadshows that played only a single area theater at a time.

To answer the number of Cinerama markets question in terms of the original 1952-1964 3-strip period, historians and enthusiasts have settled on 63 markets for North America (60 in the United States, 3 in Canada). The numbers grow when factoring in international and the markets that came about in the late 1960s when Cinerama was single-strip 70mm. And that is where things become a challenge to sort out.

Roland Lataille’s list of 141 Cinerama theaters in the U.S. is not complete. It’s close… In fact, a few on his list, arguably, do not belong, although admittedly there’s a subjective gray area involved with determining what does or does not belong on such a list. During the course of researching this series, I’ve “discovered” a few Cinerama theaters that thus far have been overlooked or forgotten or have simply eluded the experts. They will be revealed one by one as the series progresses.

Another thing to consider when quoting theater and market numbers is whether or not to include the clone formats like CineMiracle, Thrillarama, Kinopanorama, Wonderama, etc., as well as those theaters that showed the 1973 re-issue version of “This Is Cinerama.” (Many of the venues that showed that ‘73 re-issue had a temporary curved screen installed just for the engagement, and many of these do not appear on Roland’s list. Some venues showed it on a flat screen.)

It can be fun to try to sort out this information, and I encourage any input on the matter.

itinerama
itinerama on May 4, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I have 313 approx. in my list of cinerama (both 3-strip & 70mm)cinemas around the world (excluding kinopanorama and cinemiracle -have a seperate list of them) as well as details about each one.Can anyone top that?

Coate
Coate on May 4, 2009 at 9:37 pm

How ‘bout 317…

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 6, 2009 at 10:19 am

The most fabulous story telling medium in the history of entertainment!

http://issuu.com/boxoffice/docs/boxoffice_100254-1

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