Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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exit on October 11, 2007 at 1:18 pm

PS: I do like some of the Cinematheque’s programming, it’s the venue that ruins it for me. Yes William, I miss the Egyptian’s former configuration, and don’t think it was worth ruining that just to put a screening room in the lobby.

exit on October 11, 2007 at 1:12 pm

The reason I participate in Cinema Treasures and Cinema Sightlines Is their focus on real THEATRES, and the value placed on showmanship. I do not consider ArcLight or most multiplexes to be theatres. Good theatres are special environments that make you feel special, and provide a proper showcase for the film, perhaps like a frame to a painting or a setting to a jewel.

Keeping on topic here, I am not overly fond of ArcLight, because they have made misguided choices to stray from their better potential, and they have absolutely no clue about presentation and showmanship… (the only time you see a hint of it is when someone not on their in house staff is involved) They hold themselves up as the best of the best, with a substantial degree of attitude and arragance, but in most ways they are really just another multiplex. Their level of customer service is not up to their ostensibly high standards. The staff is not in the room through the movie, to look out for talkers, noisemakers and feet on the seats. At their prices, they make it your job to get up, miss the movie, and go look for someone, to report something they often don’t understand is a problem. They don’t understand why feet on the seats is wrong, which is why I have to choose the last row every time.

Having said that, I would absolutely prefer to see a movie there than the Egyptian or Aero. Bland as the ArcLight rooms are, at least they’re somewhat finished – you don’t see the bare walls of the building’s shell. American Cinematheque couldn’t affford an El Capitan calibre restoration, and there was nothing left in there but four walls, so they opted for this overly modern metal box built into the old space. It was purposely desifned to be removable in case anyone found enough cash to do a real restoration. You can pretty clearly see that this is not the intended configuration for the place.

The Egyptian is not remotely a theatre anymore. it’s not even fixed up like a standard multiplex. The metal panels, that slide out to close you off from the original walls, make the seating area feel like a cage. They could have at least fixed up the room’s focal point. Instead all they did was paint the inside of the building shell black. The wall you look at the most is unfinished, not shaped like the front of any theatre or screening room. It looks decidedly makeshift and temporary, like a basement or a warehouse. So yeah, draping off the screen area would have helped… some carpet, a little wall covering… not a lot of money needed for that. The Egyptian, as it is now, is not a pleasant place to watch a movie. Bland as the ArcLight rooms may be, theyre not exposing the bare walls.

William on October 11, 2007 at 12:00 pm

For me it’s the size of the screen compared to what was in there before. To put that second screen in the complex, the main house was downsized. During it’s last conversion for D-150 it seated around 1100 seats and the screen was huge.

HowardBHaas on October 11, 2007 at 11:43 am

Roadshow & Chris,
What is upsetting about 70mm at Egyptian? Auditorium and/or screen not large enough? Don’t use any curtains?

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on October 10, 2007 at 8:26 pm

Having seen “Lawrence” in 70MM at the Egyptian since the Cinematheque took over, I wholeheartedly agree with Roadshow. 70MM in THAT theatre is PATHETIC. May as well watch a 70MM presentation in one of these mall multiplexes or something.

Maybe I’m not as technically savvy as the rest of y'all and too dumb to realize that I’m watching a distorted presentation of a 70MM film, but I’d gladly forgive all the distortion and what not just to say that I saw ANYTHING at the Dome in 70MM in the 21st century!

JSA on October 10, 2007 at 8:03 pm

Good points William. Top Gun, Titanic and Ghostbusters were blow-ups. And I would not necessarily label them as “classics”. But that’s just me.

I would not bet on it, but it’s my understanding that for “2001” there were no Cinerama rectified prints (ie not like the Ultra-Panavision). I wonder, however, if rectified prints were struck for later re-issues to be screened at D-150 theatres. Anyway, this was a “Cinerama” presentation in name only, since Geoffrey Unsworth and Kubrick shot it in Super-Panavision. Could “original” in this case be a print before the 2001 re-issue?

Questions, questions….


veyoung52 on October 10, 2007 at 6:23 pm

“And who wrote the copy for the site? "
Probably the same person who got the entire first paragraph of "Early Development” under “Cinerama Technology” wrong.

William on October 10, 2007 at 6:15 pm

An original 70MM print from that era would be faded. Is it an original Cinerama recified print or an original flat 70MM print? And who wrote the copy for the site?
“Screening now through March, 2008, you’ll have the opportunity to view six classic films there, Shown in super crisp 70MM, Shot on film twice the sizeof a typical 35mm motion picture, these super high-resolution films are known for their amazing charity and detail on the big screen."
The films: Top Gun, Ghostbusters, Titanic, 2001, Tron, Lawrence of Arabia.
The statement sounds like all six classics were shot in 70MM. Only three were shot in 65MM and given a 70MM release. The rest were blow-outs from 35mm (anamorphic or Super 35).

JSA on October 10, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Thanks Howard. Yes, the fact that it is billed as an original print does indeed make it worthwhile!

HowardBHaas on October 10, 2007 at 5:38 pm

My guess is that it is still very enjoyable,and even more interesting because it is an ORIGINAL print. Perhaps there’s a little color fading in a few places or the sound isn’t perfect. Remember that B means good or very good, by definition. I sure wouldn’t want to see a print in a D condition, but that’s not this one.

JSA on October 10, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Ok, so what’s “B” condition??

JSA on October 10, 2007 at 4:50 pm

Well, next year will be “2001”’s 40th anniversary. It must be seen on the big screen, period. Since at this point it’s unlikely that it will screen at the Dome, the trip to Seattle is a possibility. I travel frequently to the city for business, so hopefully scheduling will not be an issue. And figuring out if they are using the curved screen for the special presentations should not be a problem. The only question remaining is will Warner strike a new 70 mm print (s) for the occassion. My guess is that they will not.

As far as the Aero and Egyptian, well, the issues are well known. But really they are the only ones screening 70 mm regularly around LA. I saw “Baraka” at the Aero a few weeks ago, and the place was packed. Did it feel like a basement? Probably, but not during the show. And last year the Egyptian featured the only remaining 30 fps Todd-AO print of “Around the World in 80 Days”. Granted it was faded, but fun. Just ask my 9-year old son!

There’s an audience for this type of presentation, and in my opinion Arclight is not capitalizing on this opportunity.


BhillH20 on October 10, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Geesh, some people get so technical about millimeters and ratios!!

William on October 10, 2007 at 12:25 pm

Howard, the Egyptian Theatre Hollywood never had a balcony. The Best screen that the Egyptian Theatre had was installed in 1969, it was the D-150 screen. It was there till they closed the house. You can see shots of the former house in the movie “Jimmy Hollywood”.

HowardBHaas on October 10, 2007 at 12:19 pm

I’ve not been to the Aero. In 2002, I saw a film, in 1.37 ratio, “Bob LeFlambeur” in the main auditorium of the Egyptian. With no disrespect meant to Roadshow, I think his comment is unfair.

It is true that the Egyptian’s interior wasn’t restored to its original 1920’s glamour and over the top decor. Nor is the movie screen as large as the screen was from sometime in the 1950’s, a huge screen like the Chinese (and Pantages, Warner then Pacific), etc. I believe the current auditorium takes up only the original balcony? of the Egyptian.

Regardless, if I could travel more, I’d love to see more classics there and especially the annual Film Noir series. I do tend to think 70 mm classics would be better at movie theaters with much larger screens. But, to say it “feels like a big cage in a basement” that I can’t agree with.

exit on October 10, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Damn! Another typo: bring = being.

PS: I have never heard of any horizon-sag problems on the Cinerama screen in Seattle, which is a deeper curve than the screen at the Cinerama Dome.

Despite the sometimes interesting programming the Cinematheque comes up with, I never really look forward to seeing a movie at the Egyptian or Aero. Even with a 70mm Roadshow print, it’s impossible to impart any degree of theatrical showmanship to their presentation. It’s just like setting up a big screen and watching home movies in the basement. It’s cereal without milk, pizza without cheese…

exit on October 10, 2007 at 12:03 pm

I hope that was a joke about the Egyptian and Aero making a trip to Seattle unnecessary. Both rooms are the very antithesis of what we look for in a theatre. Yeah they have 70mm, but they have even less character than the ArcLight. The Egyptian feels like a big cage in a basement, and the Aero, well that just looks like a basement.

Seattle Cinerama has more character and theatrical atmosphere than the entire ArcLight complex, including the Cinerama Dome. However someone talked Seattle into not using the Cinerama screen except for “special occasions” – where they have to close for at least a day and pay a crew of stagehands thousands of dollars to dismantle the front screen, unroll the Cinerama screen (they probably still haven’t aligned and anchored the louvers, which makes it just a shredded sheet screen) then they have switch the center section of the curtain track to follow the deeper curve. First time they did that, the curtain got badly ripped and was bring hastily sewn back together as the audience came in for the first show. With the unanchored louvers fluttering in the breeze of the AC blowers, it looked like How The West Was Rained On.

Unfortunately some Pacific Theatres folk were there, and the fluttering louvers apparently scared the hell out of them. That is why the renovated Dome has a low-gain sheet screen instead of louvers, because Pacific didn’t want to pay for what they thought would be the constant maintenance of a louvered screen. Of course all that they would have had to do was make a couple phone calls and a squad of Cinerama expert/enthusiasts would have happily come in, aligned and anchored the louvers in place. Also a simple white scrim hung behind the louvers would prevent black streaks in the pictures in case a louver should ever snap or flutter.

I’ve been longing to make the trip to Seattle to see some movies in the Cinerama. But before those of you who can go get too excited, make sure they are using the curved screen for the 70mm features.

William on October 10, 2007 at 11:21 am

The two side booths are still there, but no equipment. And the only Cinerama films available in 3-strip are “How the West Was Won” and “This is Cinerama”. The cost to re-equip the theatre would be too high for the return.

HowardBHaas on October 10, 2007 at 11:07 am


I checked, but wasn’t at “2001” on the same day in November that you reported seeing it at the Uptown. I was there on another day.

Under the relatively new AMC operation, the DC Uptown isn’t showing classics, 35 or 70mm. They’d likely need to bring back the union projectionists for presentation of classics. In addition to the platter that the union projectionist hated to see arrive in the booth during the prior Loews tenure, the Uptown has the projectors. I believe AMC operates the Seatle venue, so maybe they should learn from Seattle!

For that matter, the two side projection booths are still there, though sealed up. The original Cinerama screen has been replaced, but if the current screen isn’t suitable, a new Cinerama screen….and Cinerama could return to the Uptown if an operator was willing.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on October 10, 2007 at 10:35 am

You’re so right, Howard. The Uptown is another great place to see “2001” in Cinerama. Maybe they’ll show it again there too someday? It’s a lot closer than Seattle (I’m in NJ). I saw it there in November 2001 and, from the front row, it really was the ultimate trip!

HowardBHaas on October 10, 2007 at 10:20 am

I agree with Bill’s comments.Seeing a gorgeous 70 mm 6 track print of “2001” at the Uptown in Washington DC with its huge curved Cinerama sized screen was one of the best moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had! On a huge curved screen, “2001” is an incredible experience.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on October 10, 2007 at 10:06 am

I might make the trip to Seattle myself for “2001”. That was meant to be seen on a gigantic curved Cinerama screen. It’s an entirely different experience from seeing it in flat 70mm. I was hoping either Seattle or the Dome would someday show it again.

JSA on October 10, 2007 at 7:52 am

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 9, 2007 at 11:49 pm

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?