Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas

6360 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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veyoung52 on August 17, 2007 at 9:13 pm

I still have two Cinerama tee-shirts, a jacket, and real frames from HTWWW, all from the New Neon in Dayton.

Manwithnoname on August 10, 2007 at 3:34 pm

I also have a Cinerama logo baseball hat, a keychain with a rubber reproduction of the Dome building and a coffee mug with the Cinerama logo along with the magnets. All of these things I bought at the gift shop and they definitely had shirts along with tote bags with the Seven Wonders of the World ad. Some other goodies in the “Mad World” giveaway bag were a postcard, a reprint of the This Is Cinerama program (which also sold in the gift shop) and a card celebrating the film/theater’s 40th anniversary.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 10, 2007 at 2:52 pm

I’m glad I got my Cinerama Dome and Cinerama logo fridge magnets in 2003. They gave them away, too, for “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”.

exit on August 10, 2007 at 1:40 pm

There were several Dome souvenirs in the works a few years ago, including a Dome snow globe, but they never happened and aren’t likely now.

terrywade on August 9, 2007 at 11:23 pm

Good news in todays LA Times Thurs Aug 9 the Pacific team has the listing CINERAMA DOME not just The Dome. Did they read my note this week? Now lets get the great Cinema Treasure book for sale in the gift shop and bring back the Cinerama shirts. The tourists will snap them up. It’s time for a new print of Cinerama Holiday to play. Play it up for the summer vacation people in Hollywood.

KramSacul on August 9, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Yeah, that’s a simulation I found somewhere. Red masking would be kind of wild. lol

Flat 1.85:1 films aren’t actually too bad at the Dome so just masking the sides work for that. The masked 2.35:1 image would use the full width, just not the bottom. I’m surprised this isn’t done now. The benefits would far outweigh using the bottom sides of the screen.

exit on August 9, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Wow, Mark, sure looks bizarre, doesn’t it? Red masking? Is that a real picture or a simulation of what the masking may have looked like? The red part clearly defines the odd shape caused by the throw angle.

You’re on target about the masking, the further down the picture goes, the more distortion there is, which is why you want to keep the picture closer to the top of the screen than the bottom, and not use the entire width like they try to do now.

Evita looked okay but strange… in order to have a flat screen they needed to bring it forward so far that at least a third of the orchestra level was behind the screen, and and to reduce the keystoning, it was up so high that the only decent place to sit was upstairs. This made the screen feel a little too “in your face.” Not an ideal situation at all.

KramSacul on August 9, 2007 at 7:08 pm

Roadshow, since you were there for the Evita experiment how did the image look? Was there any distortion on the flat screen?

I heard that for the recent It’s A Madx4 World showing at the Dome the screen was masked so all of the frame was shown, something like this:

View link

A similar masking configuration could be used for 2.35:1. Only the bottom would have to be masked. This would decrease the projection angle and allow for more of the frame to be seen that would otherwise be cut off if all of the screen was used. The last time I was at the Dome was for Spider-man 3 and so much was cut off at the bottom of the frame that the Sony Pictures text under the Columbia Pictures logo was completely cut off.

exit on August 9, 2007 at 6:52 pm

No I meant the downstairs of the old Warner theatre after it was converted in 68 to the Penthouse/Cinerama/Orleans. They ran regular movies on the Cinerama screen for years until it was torn down about 20 years later. I saw National Lampoon’s Vacation there in its initial run. No picture distortion because the booth was in the back of the auditorium.

HowardBHaas on August 9, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Are you talking about a Cinerama screen still in New York? Where? or maybe you are talking 20 or more years ago?

exit on August 9, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Again, don’t blame the screen. Cinerama screens in places like New York, Washington DC, Seattle and Omaha, have all shown standard movies on a reduced area of a Cinerama screen for decades with very popular results. Tilting a curved screen upwards is problematic and doesn’t really solve the problem as much as change it.

Evita’s flat screen happened because Alan Parker freaked out over the throw angle making her coffin looking like a wiener. Disney engineers came in and turned the Dome into a black box. Flat ceiling, flat screen with no curtains, looked like a cheesy multiplex. I was there to see Evita. I can’t tell you how many people went down and peeked behind the flat screen to make sure the curved one was still there.

Except for using a low-gain sheet in place of louvers, the screen at the Dome is a Cinerama screen. Check with American Widescreen Museum for more information on Cinerama. There were not really a hard set of specs for the screen. Could be 146 or 126 degrees, curved sides like a cylander or flat sides like a bowtie. A lot depended on the venue.

Later processes like Todd AO and D-150 tried to imitate the Cinerama screen, and AWSM has a neat illustration about D-150 and the areas allowed for each format. You were never supposed to blow up 35mm to the full size of the screen because you lose to much light and sharpness… but the Dome does now, and you can see the result.

As for the current geometric distortion at the Dome, ArcLight’s insistance on using the entire screen for everything magnifies the distortion, and the enormous task of closing up the place to build a new frame with a flatter or tilted screen makes much less sense than simply building another booth in the rear mezzanine where it should be. It could be done in stages without missing a single screening, and the result would be a nearly straight throw to the center of the screen, eliminating any horizon sag. And since a straight line is a shorter distance than a diagonal line, the shorter throw means a brighter sharper picture. Louvers could be put onto the existing screen frame in a couple days if they had the right people working on it. BTW, 3 strip Cinerama hasn’t much problem with horizion sag becaust it’s 3 projectors, aimed directly at left, center and right, so they can stay where they are.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on August 9, 2007 at 4:24 pm


I’m pretty sure that a branch of Pacific was called Cinerama Theatres. I was under the impression that the theatres they operated in Marin County were all operated by Cinerama Theatres Inc.

KramSacul on August 9, 2007 at 3:43 pm

I should’ve added that it probably wouldn’t/doesn’t matter much if the screen in the Dome isn’t technically a Cinerama screen. As long as it’s huge and somewhat curved and the sign on the building says Cinerama then I think Joe Public will be satisifed.

Supposedly the picture at the Dome was worse before the Arclight addition. The focus across the screen wasn’t as uniform as it is now.

William on August 9, 2007 at 3:31 pm

The problems at the Dome have been the same problems it’s had for the last 40 some years. “Evita” looked good but I did not like the flat screen. The studio have over the years struck special lighter prints for that curved screen. I’ve run the Dome many times, it was a fun booth to run. (Before the automation install) The operator ran that booth, everything was run manual.

KramSacul on August 9, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Wouldn’t angling the screen upward help as well? How does the projection angle compare to Grauman’s or the Village? Also, for those that were there how did Evita look when the temporary flat screen was put in? Was it hung higher to avoid the distortion?

The thing is that there isn’t a Cinerama screen in the Dome. It’s a D-150, which is too curvy for anything shown on it nowadays.

exit on August 9, 2007 at 2:34 pm

PS: even a flatter Cinemascope tyoe screen would have a distorted and certainly dim picture if the picture was thrown from the current booth.

exit on August 9, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Mark, as I’ve said, the screen is not the problem, it’s the location of the projector. Taking the CInerama screen out of the Dome would be like taking all the Chinese decoration out of Graumans Chinese. Put another booth in the back of the mezzanine and the picture would be brighter with no dip in the horizon line. Make the screen out of properly aligned louvers and the brightness and contrast would be much better. But Pacific/ArcLight folks just don’t think that way.

KramSacul on August 9, 2007 at 11:46 am

If the Pacific/Arclight Execs are indeed so disinterested in showing true Cinerama in The Dome then I would honestly prefer they install a proper screen (Cinemascope) and fix the projection problems. Then instead of showing compromised Cinerama a week out of the year and dim distorted 35mm/2k digital for the rest they could have top notch projection the entire year.

exit on August 9, 2007 at 11:00 am

JS is the onePacific/ArcLight folks should be listening to. I’ve met RB as well. Just don’t ask him what ArcLight means…

exit on August 9, 2007 at 9:47 am

Scott: Pacific was originally called Pacific Drive-Ins, the chain was never called Cinerama. They acquired Cinerama inc. (not including any theatres) in the sixties after the Dome was built.

Mark: The Cinerama enthsiasts had more experience with and knowledge of Cinerama than anyone at Pacific, except for the two people I mentioned before. The louvered screen would be made of a high gain material, and most important, each strip needed to be angled so that is was flat toward the audience and anchored into place so that it wouldn’t move. Seattle got the louvered screen but never bothered to angle or anchor the lovvers, so it was effectively just a sliced up sheet screen. First time they showed HOW THE WEST WAS WON, the AC was turned on behind the screen, and all those strips began to flutter, causing bleck lines to appear all across the screen, so it looked like it was raining all over the picture. Apparently Pacific Execs were there and that scared them away from installing louvers in the Dome. Of course had the strips been angled properly and fixed into position, and a white scrim was hung behind the louvers, you would never get that fluttering, and even if you did, the white scrim would prevent the black streaks in the picture.

The experts also demonstrated how the severe angle from the existing booth distorts and weakens the picture, while a more direct throw from the back of the mezzanine would give a brighter undistorted picture. But Pacific didn’t want to loose the 39 seats back there.

It was also the Cinerama folks who suggested that the Dome be retrofitted for 3-strip Cinerama, further that it be shown regularly (but not too often) as a tourist attraction. There were filmmakers who were itching to shoot new footage in 3 strip, like a short prologue in real Cinerama to be shown before every feature, but again, Pacific execs aren’t really interested.

90038: who do you know that would pay for an ArcLight T-shirt? the Cinerama name and logo are more attractive and interesting than that ArcLight scribble. They had more than one design of Cinerama shirts at one time. Not by any stretch of the imagination cold ArcLight merchandise outsell Cinerama.

KramSacul on August 8, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Hey, I have an Arclight shirt around here somewhere. ;–)

I’m curious what advice Cinerama enthusiasts were suggesting. A proper strip screen would elminate the cross reflections, of course.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on August 8, 2007 at 6:40 pm

Do you think Pacific may dislike the Cinerama name because their entire chain was called “Cinerama” in the past? Perhaps they’re just tired of hearing it.

exit on August 8, 2007 at 6:16 pm

Pacific doesn’t want the Cinerama name and brand, they think the ArcLight brand is going to be as popular as The Hard Rock Cafe or Planet Hollywood. Delusional, huh? With only one or two exceptions, (good people who aren’t given enough clout by the owners) the Pacific/Arclight folks in currently charge have never had any knowledge, interest or respect for the Cinerama name or the process.

Actually the CInerama stuff sold just fine. They really took a bath on the ArcLight branded merchandise, because really, who cares about that name?. Cinerama is one of the more recognizable names in entertainment history, and it actully means something, while the ArcLight name (“borrowed” from a foreign theatre chain that sued Pacific over it) means nothing. Ask one of the employees what ArcLight means. They have no idea. I once asked someone in middle management there, and the answer was comically clueless.

Adding the 3 Cinerama projectors was not corporate Pacific’s idea at all, it was the result of much prodding from Cinerama enthusiasts, and Pacific chose to ignore much of the expert advice about how to get a good picture on the Cinerama screen, which is why movies at the Dome are generaly dim and fuzzy.

Seattle and Pacific aren’t the ones who wanted to restore any or all of the Cinerama movies, and they aren’t willing to pay for it all. And by the way. none of the films has been “restored” They just struck new prints of two features and that’s all. The costs were shared by special arrangements. Again it was the Cinerama enthusiasts (many of whom are employed in entertainment and know how to do it right) that prodded these theatres into doing what’s been done so far, and both theatres' execs resisted fully installing the screen and process, so the screen image in both Seattle and the Dome are not as effective as they could be.

If Seattle execs really cared for Cinerama, they would have listened to the experts and permanantly installed a proper Cinerama screen (with the strips anchored to the front) instead of rolling it up behind a flatter screen. Their designers were so enthralled with making that showy new ceiling that they neglected to allow for the full size of the Cinerama screen. The ceiling obsturcts part of the picture, so the screen has to be masked down from its full picture size because of the ceiling.

The Cinerama name and process was not really being kept alive by the corporations in charge of Pacific or Seattle, it was some vocal and resourceful enthusiasts and experts who prodded both into action, and in both cases their expert advice was not fully carried out and the installations are compromised.

Cinerama inc. is a very small division of Pacific, and has maybe a three person staff consisting of the two experts mentioned before and a secretary. Again these are good people who know showmanship, and if they were in charge of things, the Cinerama Dome experience (and the rest of the theatres) would be far superior to what it is today. The execs only listen to money.

terrywade on August 8, 2007 at 9:51 am

The gift store in the lobby of the Pacific Arclight no longer sells Cinerama shirts. The rude lady told me they took a bath on them.I don’t think so. I have seen many people with them in the last few years. They had many styles with the Cinerama logo. They don’t even sell the new Cinema Treasure book that has the Cinerama Dome in it. I asked about the book she never heard of it. Of all places to sell this book this is the place. the Pacific people don’t care about Cinerama anymore. In the LA Times the theatre is just called the Dome. Why not call it The Cinerama Dome. They can put in the little logo for Cinerama. At one time the Seattle people and the Pacific guys wanted to restore all the 3 proj prints. Is this ever going to happen?

William on August 4, 2007 at 11:46 am

The ArcLight is running “Hairspray” Sing-A-Long version now. Enjoy!