Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas

6360 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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JSA on October 10, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Well, guess I’m heading to Seattle. The Cinerama Theater there will showcase a 70 mm series through 2008 that includes “2001”, “Tron” and “Lawrence of Arabia”.


exit on October 10, 2007 at 7:49 am

I remember hearing about how ArcLight moves platter footage between the Dome and the plex in a big box… with some kind of magnetic closure… and that it didn’t occur to them that transporting an expensive 70 mag print of Lawrence in that magnetic box wasn’t a good idea. I hear it pretty much ruined the soundtrack.

And remember that the curved screen is not to blame for the horizon sag at the dome, it’s their refusal to put a standard booth in the back of the mezz where a straight-on throw would eliminate the sag and brighten the picture… heaven forbid they give up 39 seats under the main booth that no one wants to sit in anyway… Even with the upstairs booth, 35mm scope looked better there when they had the sense not to try to fill the whole screen. Bring the botttom masking up and the side masking in at least. Oh yeah, andinstead of using a properly anchored louvered screen to avoid cross reflection, they put in a low-gain sheet screen, so the bad picture is a combination of an inferior screen, bad throw angle, and blowing up 35mm far too big to give a bright sharp picture on that screen. 2 or 3 4K digital projectors running together would increase brightness and sharpness, and they could be digitally rectified for the curve.

If you want to make the Dome more of a showplace, get rid of the blue lights, make sure all the ring lights go on and off at the same time, explain to them that the curtain is there to ensure that we never see a blank screen, and schedlue regular “event” screenings so that anyone visiting could see at least one Cinerama and/or 70mm screening whenever they visit. And are you SURE they don’t have at least two reel to reel projectors up there?

KramSacul on October 10, 2007 at 7:42 am

Until the projection angle is fixed I can’t imagine sitting thru any 35mm, 70mm, 2k, 4k, film in the Dome. Just no.

How good can Digibeta look on a theater-sized screen? I would’ve asked for my money back but it sounds like it was passable.

JSA on October 10, 2007 at 6:26 am

Chris: I would venture to say that many times the “lust for greed” doesn’t even pay off. Which makes such indulgence even more puzzling. Just a few weeks ago you could not find a seat for a 70 MM screening of “Baraka” at the Aero, and “Lawrence of Arabia” plays there to capacity crowds. Go figure…


exit on October 9, 2007 at 7:11 pm

I heartily agree, Chris, but seeing the way ArcLight operates, I have little hope for it.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on October 9, 2007 at 6:56 pm

I have a better question: Why not borrow a page from the Ziegfield and run classics in the Dome instead of crap like “The Heartbreak Kid” during off-season? January – April & September – October are the times when Hollywood puts out crap. Why indulge their lust for greed by showing their crap during these down months?!

exit on October 9, 2007 at 5:42 pm

And what happened to all the Cinerama merchandise? Certainly it sold better than all the ArcLight stuff.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on October 6, 2007 at 5:31 am

Howard: They announced the cancellation of “The Shawshank Redemption” long before the event. Those who bought tickets either got refunds or got tickets to one of the other movies.

lgk697386 on October 5, 2007 at 11:28 pm

Roadshow, thanks for the clarification. I could swear there was an overture on the DVD, but I am sure you are right. We essentially had the overture for about 90 minutes prior to the screening as they played the soundtrack on a loop for the early arrivals. I heard that, in the Rocky room, “Gonna Fly Now” was played ad nauseum.

William on October 5, 2007 at 11:13 pm

In the old Dome booth panel they had five aspect settings to choose from: Flat (1.85) / Scope (2.35) / 70MM (1:85 masking) / 70MM (Full width) / Cinerama (full screen). So people who saw films there from 1963 till the late 1970’s could have seen a film on the full screen. When they put Xenon lamphouses they only used four of those buttons on that panel. Pacific’s projection department disconnected the Cinerama button from the panel. The full screen was still there but the operator could not open it the full Cinerama width. The D-150 type houses did the same thing too.

exit on October 5, 2007 at 11:04 pm

LenK: Sound of Music never had an overture. I agree the presentation was awkward, as if the operators had no idea what an intermission was, and just ran it like any other reel change, maybe from a platter. Again someone whould have told them, either actually have an intermission break or just changeover from the actone fadeout to the act 2 fade in.

The last real roadshow I paid to see was Fiddler on the Roof at NYC’s Rivoli in 72. They had 3 shows that day (prob a Sat) 2-5-8. I was at the 5… At the end of Act I the picture faded out, then the fade in to Act II came on imediately. It was done quite smoothly but even as a kid, I knew they skipped the intermission to allow more walk-in time for the 8pm show. Having that in mind, the professional union projectionist most likely threaded the second act reel past the blank entr'acte, and did an early changeover before the intermission title.

from much personal experience with them, I doubt there are any management staff at the ArcLignt who know what a roadshow or intermission is.

exit on October 5, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Since we were talking about how a print looks to a viewer, that’s what I meant about the cue marks.

The Dome used to cover 2/3 to ¾ of the screen for 35mm, and wisely reserved the full screen size for 70mm.

Since ArcLight now insists on using the full size of the Dome’s screen for every format, 35mm will look dim, and grainy or soft. 70mm will be a much brighter and sharper image.

In other words, 70mm would look much better, so you would probably see the difference.

lgk697386 on October 5, 2007 at 10:44 pm

I was at the AFI event and saw “The Sound of Music.” They did not do an overture. We had the same intermission problem. As soon as the intermission went up on the screen, people start to leave. But, they went straight to the blank screen entr'acte. Most people in the audience didn’t understand what was happening. They thought they were missing part of the film. Very confusing and it dampened what should have been a wonderful night. No exit music either. All of it exists on the DVD.
BTW, in our auditorium, Julie Andrews was introduced by George Stevens Jr. In the audience was the girl who played Liesl as well as the widow of Robert Wise.

William on October 5, 2007 at 10:20 pm

All cue scribes for cue makers and cues are round, it’s the lens that makes them oval. So a round cue printed on a Scope print will be oval. When you look at it on a bench it’s round. For 70MM there round and scribed on to the print at the lab.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on October 5, 2007 at 10:05 pm

70mm: perfectly round marks in upper right corner of the screen
35mm: oval marks

Is that right?

William on October 5, 2007 at 9:54 pm

“You can tell if it’s a 70 print by the shape of the changeover cue marks.”


Please tell more.

exit on October 5, 2007 at 9:39 pm

You can tell if it’s a 70 print by the shape of the changeover cue marks.

HowardBHaas on October 5, 2007 at 9:19 pm

(1) Somebody might want to ask the AFI if 35 or 70 mm print of Spartacus was shown. I hope there’s still a good 70 mm print available.

(2) People bought tickets and were looking forward to seeing it, but weren’t shown The Shawshank Redemption? Why didn’t they just borrow one of the celebrities from another auditorium to give an introduction?

Regardless, sounds like a great event.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on October 5, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Roadshow: They DID close the curtain when the Intermission card came on.

Bill: Kirk just gave Kubrick the normal “great director” accolades. Dalton Trumbo was truly & literally the focus of Kirk’s remarks.

BTW: Said remarks are now available at the LA Times Calendar section (

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on October 5, 2007 at 3:41 pm

Chris: Did Kirk have anything to say, nice or otherwise, about Stanley Kubrick?

exit on October 5, 2007 at 12:59 am

One would think with an organization such as AFI, care would have been taken to either present the intermission properly or cue a changeover before the title came on. Someone should have known better… I wonder if the same thing didn’t happen with the other roadshow feature they were running…

JSA on October 5, 2007 at 12:46 am

Chris and Cliff,

Thanks for sharing! Indeed sounds like it was a lot of fun, despite the late starts and the micro-intermission for Spartacus . When this all came about, I was on a business trip back in the Midwest, and by the time I got to my hotel, the shows were sold out.

I’m wondering about those empty seats at the Dome…


Cliffs on October 4, 2007 at 10:53 pm

I was also in attendance for the Rocky show in the regular Arclight complex (lower theater #6). Much like Chris’s show, Rocky started very late (I’d say 7:40). Same spiel (repetitive Rocky trivia, “Gonna Fly Now” on an endless loop for an hour, then the Maryland AFI rep, AFI film clip…) then Talia Shire comes out to introduce Stallone. She talked for a few minutes about her experience shooting the film and then introduces Stallone, who enters to a standing ovation. He talks for about five minutes and then away we go with Rocky (at which point a huge group of people all rush Stallone to get various Rocky products autographed at the side of the theater – I was surprised they let as many people get stuff signed as they did).
Now, here’s what I found interesting (and I need to call the Arclight to double check). I’m about 90% sure what we saw was a digital projection and it looked pretty amazing, but it also showed every flaw in both the photography and sound mix (which was the original mono, but was terribly shrill and painful at times). The reason I think it was digital projection is that I saw no changeover dots or reel changes throughout the entire film. There were a few points that showed odd cuts during shots, but there were none of the tell-tale signs of a film splice or reel change (any extra dirt, analog pops). The audio sounded to be some form of digital and, like I said, showed more flaws in the mix than I’ve ever really heard before. I could be wrong and it could have been film, but if it was, it was the best made up print I’ve ever seen in my life. Regardless, it probably looked better last night than it did in 1976.

But one of the coolest moments of the night was the arrival. People coming from the Sunset side of the Arclight, had to walk just to the other side of the red carpet as the presenters were all doing their press interviews. So as we entered the complex, it was, “Hey, look, it’s Rob Reiner! Oh, and there’s Clint Eastwood! Hey, George Lucas! And Billy Crystal! Wow, Kirk Douglas!” In fact, the only presenters we didn’t see there were Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.
And the poor people who bought for The Shawshank Redemption were SOL because Morgan Freeman couldn’t make it so that show was cancelled.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on October 4, 2007 at 8:12 pm

Thanks so much, Chris. It does sound like a night to remember and I’m really glad you shared your memories of it with us.

R2D2 on October 4, 2007 at 7:54 pm


Yes, “The Slipper And The Rose” played at the Dome. It opened March 25, 1976 and ran for eight weeks. The presentation was 35mm & 4-track mag stereo.