Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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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?

KramSacul on October 9, 2007 at 11:42 pm

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 9, 2007 at 10:26 pm

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 11:11 am

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 10:56 am

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 9:42 am

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

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on October 5, 2007 at 9:31 pm

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 3:28 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 3:13 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 3:04 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 2:49 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 2:44 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 2:20 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.