Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas

6360 Sunset Boulevard,
Hollywood,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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dia920
dia920 on June 17, 2005 at 8:43 pm

I’ve been reading the arguments regarding gaudy opulence vs. cheap minimalism in theaters. I personally enjoy the baroque beauty of our historic filmhouses, as they remind us of the Golden Age of Hollywood. They are the places to take the kids or out-of-towners who are surely as awestruck as we are at the grandeur of them. BUT, for those who wish to see the FILM, Arclight is King. The black-box format dispenses with the flash and drama of glittery wall fixtures and points only to the screen. Rather than speaking to me of cheapness (to the contrary, a friend who worked on the construction of the auditoriums assures me that no expense was spared, and anyone familiar with the stage or cinema knows that flashy rarely equals expensive) they speak to me of concern for a focus on the experience of sight and sound. Even the finest painting can be overwhelmed by an overly loud frame, and Arclight obviously understands that bright, brassy fixtures belong only in suburban multiplexes and in Wal-Mart at Christmastime.

I just finished watching Star Wars Episode III at the Dome (for the fourth time there), and the digital projection and rich, powerful sound were flawless from the first frame to the last. The quality of film presentation at Arclight is without rival, in my experience. For the Hollywood buff, the after-film treats are in the lobby, where gems of movie craft, usually related to the Dome feature, are cleanly and respectfully displayed. No, I don’t work for Arclight or Pacific Theaters—I just like them that much. And while there is surely something to be said for the older, more opulent venues, if you feel that Arclight is “too cheap” to wear anything other than black, then stick to your local mall, and stop annoying me with your criticisms.

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on June 15, 2005 at 3:13 pm

“Ben-Hur” played the Dome in July of 2000 as part of the special festivities just before it closed for renovation. Alas, it was a 35mm print but a new one and Charlton Heston appeared in person. “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Terminator 2” both played during those 3 days in 70mm.

PeterJohn
PeterJohn on June 15, 2005 at 2:20 pm

One film that I have never heard mentioned in regards to playing at the Cinerama Dome is BEN-HUR. Has this ever played there? I would love to see this once again on the big screen. I should think it would be absolutely magnificent. To anyone who can shed some light on this, thank you.

Regards,

Peter John

MallRat73
MallRat73 on June 5, 2005 at 1:54 am

Anyone remember any films featuring the Cinerama Dome? The sequel to the first (and best) ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ shot the climax on the roof. The film ‘The Junk Man’ was one of writer/director/star H.B. Halicki’s last films.
‘The Big Picture’ starring Kevin Bacon had him filming a very cheesy music video featuring life-size PEZ dispensers. This segment was filmed directly across Sunset with just the top 10 feet or so of the Dome showing in the background.

billyraccoon
billyraccoon on June 4, 2005 at 10:18 pm

Michael,

Thank you sooooo much for the information. This isssue has been driving me crazy since the Dome was redone and I kept reading and hearing the claims. Your site filled in all the details and jogged my memory cells – It was a “Re-Premier”, Six Track Stereo and promoted with “Back To Entertain a New Generation”. I was that new generation. I was only 20 yrs old.

One final question, if I may impose? What accounted for the mismatched color and registration? Did they transfer all three image strips to 70mm film for the showing? It was after all those two things (flaws) that led me to believe I saw 3-strip Cinerama.

Thanks again, I appreciate you taking the time to help me. I am happy to say “I stand corrected.” Now I can’t wait till the Dome runs it again – so I can actually see – that which I thought I saw -but didn’t – LOL

Coate
Coate on June 4, 2005 at 9:00 pm

CineBill,

The engagement of “This Is Cinerama” at the Dome you are referring to was a 70mm presentation, not a 3-strip Cinerama. Its Dome run began Feb. 15, 1973 and ran for about three months.

Any statements or article references to the Dome not running 3-strip Cinerama until a couple of years ago remain correct.

View link

billyraccoon
billyraccoon on June 4, 2005 at 6:34 pm

In the late 60’s or early 70’s, after the success of “2001 A Space Odyssey” at the Warner Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. in 70mm “Cinerama”, the Dome on Sunset Blvd. ran a special engagement of “This Is Cinerama”. It remember it well. What it was like to get tickets for a family of 5, the hours we spent in line taking turns standing and what an event it really was.

I also remember the faded condition of some of the 3 “panels” and how they didn’t always match the one next to it and how the registration wasn’t always the best, especially the water sking scene in Florida. But despite it all, it was truly an event. The Rolller Coaster sequence opening to three panels after Lowell Thomas introduces the film on the one center panel alone was worth every moment spent in line and every dollar we paid. The ads boasted the 3-strip projector showing as well as a newly restored multi-channel stereo soundtrack.

Now here’s the reason for my post. “Not until the Dome’s two-year restoration was completed in December 2002 did the venue show a film — a reissue of 1962’s "How the West Was Won” — in Cinerama.“ This is simply not true!

Because their press release and subsequent news coverage was so wide spread, the re-creation of history (or honest error?) is being quoted by everyone as truth.

If anyone can provide me with information regarding this event, I would surely appreciate hearing from you. I plan to go to the Los Angeles Times research library and search their microfilm archives to get copies of the articles and ads. However, without a date or year this is one very huge undertaking.

I want to present this proof to Pacific Theatres management so they can set the record straight and correct the misleading story they are busy telling people. Then hopefully this falsehood can stop being perpetuated. I know rewriting history is popular, especially when it can be used as hype. Cinerama is bigger than that, it deserves good historical documentation, not hype.

JimRankin
JimRankin on June 1, 2005 at 9:05 am

Don K.’s discussion is right on the nose, and it will be intersting to see what developes now that big business virtually ‘owns’ the govenment. Much more discussion about his is in the FORMUS of the site: www.bigscreenbiz.com

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on May 31, 2005 at 6:59 pm

To answer Eric’s inquiry, there is no question that the Dome is THE place to see any film. When the Lord of the Rings trilogy played here the 35mm print image was huge and the sound was perfect. Was it distorted? Some, because the film was not shot for presentation on a curved screen. Impressive? More so than any other theater currently running film in L.A. including the Chinese. I have not seen a digital presentation in the Dome but it is advertised as filling the entire Dome screen which, as noted above, is 86 feet wide. The “black boxes”, while quality houses, can’t come close to that kind of experience. Make sure you sit in the center section on the main floor. This section always sells out first and for good reason.

Don K.
Don K. on May 31, 2005 at 6:31 pm

Saw HOW THE WEST WAS WON at the Cinerama Dome and I was duly impressed. Beyond that, I like the black boxes at the Arclight, they fulfull a real need for quality screening rooms.

As much as I love quality vintage single screen theaters, the real question is whether or not motion picture exhibition as we have known it will survive. This is an age of changing public tastes. We are on the verge of a new era of on demand program delivery via a high speed internet connection to home theater systems, as well as High Definition DVD. Increased demand will bring down the price of High Definition Home Theater systems. Then the marketplace for motion pictures will change dramatically.

The only kind of motion picture exhibition that stands a real chance in this brave new world will be a high quality presentation. Of course, the Federal Government may have to allow the media conglomerates that own the movie studios to own a larger stake in movie exhibition. While that may seem to run counter to present Federal Anti-Trust law, it may be the only way traditional movie exhibition can survive. The movie studios still need a theatrical launch for their releases. Media conglomerates probably have the political clout to get their way in the current political environment. While I am not an advocate of corporate control of government by any means, movie studio investment in exhibition may be the way of the future. Allowing media conglomerates a 49% interest in exhibition may be the only way that movie theaters can survive in a changing marketplace.

The Arclight Cinemas could be part of the way of the future.

johnmontgomery
johnmontgomery on May 28, 2005 at 5:10 pm

If HOW THE WEST WAS WON will play this fall at the Cinerama Dome, I will unquestionably drive to Hollywood from Albuquerque to see it. I think if I could choose how I wanted to go out of this world when I die, it would be while sitting in the middle of the front row watching the end of HTWWW!!

et415
et415 on May 28, 2005 at 7:58 am

I have some friends from NYC and London coming into town on June 9, and they want to see Star Wars. So of course I’m taking them to the Arclight. My question is whether to put them in the Dome or one of the other theaters. Does the digital projection make a significant difference? Does the curved Dome screen distort the film? Where’s the best place to sit?

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on May 4, 2005 at 3:56 pm

I’ve been lucky to have seen “How The West Was Won” and the 40th anniversary print of “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” here in 2003. In addition, I’ve seen my fair share of current Hollywood fare as well. I will never forget the first time I saw a film here (Terminator 2 on Opening Day 1991). I love this place!

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on May 4, 2005 at 11:37 am

Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back will play here on 6/1 and 6/10 respectively. 2 tickets will be given away to the AFI tribute to George Lucas at the first screening. It does not specify if the screenings will be in the Dome or not.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 4, 2005 at 10:44 am

John: I’ve heard talk that HOW THE WEST WAS WON in 3-strip Cinerama is coming back to the Cinerama Dome sometime this fall. It’s worth the trip from anywhere!

One other thing about Alfred Newman’s excellent score for GREATEST STORY – for many years I thought the music heard while Max Von Sydow was carrying the cross on the way to Calvary was some of the most beautiful film music I’d ever heard. Years later I found out that it was not part of the original score at all, but the opening music to Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem”. It still fits that scene perfectly. I envy you getting to see that movie on that screen.

johnmontgomery
johnmontgomery on May 4, 2005 at 9:22 am

I saw IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD here when the theater first opened, then THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD several times. The last film I thought was awesome, and I must have been among the only youngsters (and adults for that matter) at that time who thought the film amazing. Once I had my brother take me for an evening show (my brother was a minister), and I remember forcing him to sit in the very first row dead center, so that the power of th screen would overwhelm us. I have forever after almost ALWAYS sat in the first several rows of any theater, as I’m convinced that that’s the location of maximum impact. I also remember attending the film on enough occasions that I was able to buy all three folios of the gorgeous large-scale color photographs from the film that were offered in the lobby along with the souvenir book. I loved to sit at the front of the theater before the show started and smell the fresh-printed odor of the souvenir book—some vintage copies of souvenir books in general still retain that odor, even when I’ve purchased them on eBay. In any event, I considered (at the age of 14!) the GSET’s souvenir book to be the most artistically-produced of any souvenir book in the history of motion pictures (it’s only rival in my adolescent opinion was LAWRENCE OF ARABIA’s).

My family had something of an indirect connection to composer of the film’s score. Ken Darby, Alfred Newman’s collaborator, was the son of my junior high school English teacher. My mother, who worked as a highly respected music teacher and choral director for the Santa Monica school system, and who was renowned enough that the Santa Monica city council shut down operations for the day when she passed away, collaborated with Alfred Newman on at least one occasion to produce the popular Stairway Under the Stars. The highlight of the program was Alfred Newman himself conducting the rousing closing music from CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE, which has gone down in soundtrack history as “Conquest.” You better believe I was in the audience that day.

One of the things that my mother said about the music to GSET has always stuck in my mind, primarily because I couldn’t believe it was true. She told me that the main theme from the score was lifted from a Classical composer (I believe it was perhaps Bach). I genuinely loved the film score and didn’t believe her (there were a lot of things I didn’t believe her about in those days, much to my deep regret).

Years later I had a chance to visit the Cinerama dome with my own children, just before the Archlight rennovations (I have yet to see in person what they did to the place). The film showing was WILD WILD WEST with Will Smith—not a particular popular film. There were maybe three or four additional audience members in the theater besides myself and my son and daughter, so we pretty much had the run of the theater and could explore all we wanted to. Naturally, I grabbed the center seats in the very first row, just as I did more than thirty years ago.

Now, WILD WILD WEST was not a particularly great movie, but after seeing it projected on (only about 2/3rds) of the curved screen and overwhelmed by the stereo system, we all came away thinking we had just watched the greatest movie ever made!! We live in Albuquerque where movie screens are puny by comparison. I just don’t think that kids nowadays realize how great the impact of even mediocre films can have when shown at colossal scale—the way films were meant to be seen in the golden age of widescreen cinema. Imagine what viewing a full-scale three-strip Cinerama film like HOW THE WEST WAS WON in an original Cinerama theater can do to the senses! How we’ve given up so much simply for the sake of convenience. Students in my college art history classes just can’t believe that films used to be 3 ½ hours long or what could keep an audience fascinated that long. It was the magnitude of the bid screen to be sure!

jmarellano
jmarellano on May 2, 2005 at 3:32 pm

So Agreed Chris. Glad to see you!

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on May 2, 2005 at 2:57 pm

I think it’s funny how these 20 year old kids are complaining about Star Wars playing here instead of at Graumans. Of course Graumans is the living legend. But anyone who knows their movie theatres knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Cinerama Dome is the best movie theatre in LA…if not the whole darn country. It will be a pleasure to see Star Wars here in 2 weeks!

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on April 25, 2005 at 8:03 am

Yes that would be a great idea. To install a larger curved screen maybe 65 to 80 ft with a curtain. Suitable for all formats much like the NY Capitol after Cinerama was installed there until it’s demise. So that between first runs they could show all types of widescreen restored classics so they could make money instead of being dark.
But of course that would make too much sense. I’ve found in life that for the most part that when it seems as though people don’t know what they’re doing they really don’t know what they’re doing.

RobertR
RobertR on April 25, 2005 at 7:46 am

Well that was just the temporary Cinerama screen, I’m talking about a permanant curved screen to use for all formats.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on April 25, 2005 at 6:13 am

They did Robert in ‘73 and it was pathetic.

RobertR
RobertR on April 22, 2005 at 5:03 pm

I wish they would put a curved screen in the Ziegfeld to make the experience more exciting. I never understood since it opened why they went with the flat screen.

tomovieboy70
tomovieboy70 on April 22, 2005 at 4:28 pm

The Cinerama Dome is one of the last remaining venues on Earth that can properly exhibit both three-strip Cinerama as well as 70mm Super Cinerama. As such, it should be revered. It also happens to be the most spectacular place in the 21st century to see a movie. It brings back memories of all the roadshow houses of yester-years that are gone, gone, gone. I have been fortunate enough to see “El Cid” in 70mm, “This is Cinerama” and “How the West Was Won” in three-strip, and “Mad, Mad World” in 70mm Ultra Panavision at this venue. Once in a lifetime experiences in our age of mini-screen multiplexes. The presentation this past Christmas of “The Phantom of the Opera” was a stunning thing to see and hear at this theater, even if it was 35mm anamorphic and DTS Digital, it still played like gangbusters. Fabulous theater like nothing else around. Not even the Ziegfeld in New York, a superb late-era 70mm roadshow house, can compare with the sweep of the Dome…

Manwithnoname
Manwithnoname on April 7, 2005 at 10:22 am

Wow….I just kinda like the place. :–)