Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas

6360 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 31, 2006 at 3:33 pm

From the Los Angeles Times, November 1963: the premiere of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and of the Dome itself. Get a load of that celebrity guest list:

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Coate on July 29, 2006 at 7:29 pm

Regarding the June 7 screenings of “Lawrence Of Arabia” and “The King And I” mentioned a few posts back, that event also included a birthday party/roast/tribute to Tomlinson Holman, best known as the developer of the THX Sound System. For those who may have an interest, here is a link to some pics:

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exit on July 28, 2006 at 11:31 pm

The ArcLight complex is loaded with flaws (many are easily correctable) and it doesn’t even begin to live up to its own hype.

However I wouldn’t fault the Dome’s design for the inferior picture problems. It is entirely possible to have a brighter picture without any geometric distortion on a curved screen, but Pacific/ArcLight chose not to make the necessary adjustments. Instead, they used cheap workarounds… The bottom masking is actually curved UP on the ends to try to hide the keystoning, which doesn’t really work, and there is still a dip in the horizon line. They also chose a low-gain screen material to lessen cross-reflection. As a result, the picture is indeed much softer and dimmer than it could be, and darker curtains on the walls don’t hide that fact. The picture is distorted even with digital projection, (which one would think should have some capacity to adjust for the curve).

So many details in the Dome and the adjoining houses could have been much better with some thoughtful showmanship and finesse, but sadly, the ArcLight decision-makers are utterly clueless to that kind of thing. There aren’t many people around who know how to do it well, and the ones in charge don’t like to listen to them.

It is amazing that the ArcLight promotes its zero decor in their ads, and that they got someone at the LA times to say they had the best screens and best popcorn. I personally don’t find sitting in a “black box” a plus, I have seen seams on several of the screens, and I’ve gotten sick from the popcorn, which is rarely even warm, and often filled with broken pieces and unpopped kernels.

I much prefer the presentation and atmosphere at the El Capitan… not perfect, but there is at least is an attempt at showmanship, and I always have a better time there.

segask on June 15, 2006 at 6:37 pm

does anyone know how many subwoofers the Dome has?

segask on June 10, 2006 at 5:07 pm

a number of people have said that the Dome has the finest presentation of any theater in L.A. I don’t see how you can possibly say that. According to the Arclight website the screen is 86 feet by 32 feet.

86/32 = 2.69. This is ok, I guess, for those tiny handful of Cinerama movies that were ever made, but for all first run films in 2.40 or 1.85 the image gets badly distorted on the sides. In the center area of the screen the geometry is ok, but out towards the sides it is stretched and looks awful. In Revenge of the Sith for example, there is a shot of a planet in space a little off center. The part of the planet in the middle of the picture looked circular, but the part towards the side looked elliptical, and the planet looked like an egg.

And its so deeply curved (and not louvered) that it reflects on itself and can look washed out if something bright is on one side and something dark is on the other side.

And there are still sound imaging problems caused by sound reflections off the domed shape of the ceiling, even thought they covered it with acoustic panels during the remodel a few years ago.

Pacific/Arclight probably has the best projection and sound equipment money can buy in the Dome, but unfortunately for showing regular first run films, the auditorium suffers from really serious design flaws. Best presentation of any theater in L.A.? LOL! Far from it!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 8, 2006 at 3:38 am

The architecture firm responsible for designing the 14 screens which now accompany Welton Beckett & Associates' original Cinerama Dome are Gensler Architects, a massive diversified global company with offices in 28 cities and over 2000 employees and an equal number of clients.

JSA on June 2, 2006 at 2:48 pm

More bad news for me: They have to do that the week I’m out of town on a business trip…

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on June 2, 2006 at 2:10 pm

GOOD NEWS: Showing June 7: The King & I (1:00 PM) & (grab hold of something) Lawrence of Arabia (7:00 PM – IN 70MM!)

BAD NEWS: They’re showing both of these in the Arclight wing and NOT AT THE DOME!


Details at Arclight’s website. Here’s a tiny URL link to the actual details page:

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on May 1, 2006 at 8:17 am

Anyone (besides me) going to see M:I-3 at the (digitally projected) dome this weekend? I’ve got tickets for the Saturday night 8:10 show. Let the summer begin!

JSA on April 24, 2006 at 1:21 pm

Maybe a place to start would be to show classics at the Dome Saturdays and/or Sundays, at a special matinee or other regularly established time. Some smaller theaters do this already.


Chris Utley
Chris Utley on April 24, 2006 at 6:07 am

Pacific/Arclight already has a “leg up” regarding the “Classics” concept. They regularly show classic films (old & new) in the Arclight portion of the complex every week…twice a week, I think. It shouldn’t be too much trouble moving certain films to the Dome.

One more thing I forgot to mention: In anticipation for the release of “Kill Bill Vol. 2” a couple of years ago, Arclight held a “Quentin Tarantino Retropsective” of all his films from “Reservoir Dogs” through “Kill Bill Vol. 1” IN THE DOME. The final event was a 9:00 PM showing of KB Vol. 1 followed by a midnight showing of KB Vol. 2 on a Thursday night. This is also the much ballyhooed incident where QT was supposed to be there holding a Q&A after KB Vol. 2 but “missed his plane”. :o)

JSA on April 23, 2006 at 3:44 pm

In the Ziegfeld’s CT page, I suggested a coast-to-coast classics revival that could take place simultaneously at flagship theaters in both the East and West Coasts. My thoughts were that, if successfully executed, such an event could demonstrate that there is substantial audience interest in classic films, in terms of proper theatrical presentation. In addition, this revival could offer industry, enthusiasts and the general public, with an opportunity to discuss in an open forum issues of interest such as restoration, preservation, and presentation of classic films. The Cinerama Dome would be the ideal place to host this event, particularly when it comes to 70 mm.
As Bill pointed out, the Ziegfeld is planning another classics series for this November. It would certainly be interesting if both venues coordinated efforts, along with the film distributors, the studios and other technical professionals, to bring out the best possible prints and stage a large-scale classic series.


LawMann on April 19, 2006 at 2:06 am

The top two theatres in Los Angeles that presents 70MM the way it should be shown, Grauman’s Chinese and the Dome.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 18, 2006 at 6:58 pm

Unfortunately “Scary Movie 4” is playing at the Ziegfeld right now as well. But the theater’s director has assured us that the Classics will be returning in the fall. I hope the same thing will happen at the Dome, the ultimate place to see 70mm in the entire USA.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on April 18, 2006 at 6:20 pm

OK, folks. What must we do to convince Pacific/Arclight to take a page from the Ziegfeld in New York and run a similar classic series at the Dome – not Arclight, BUT THE DOME! They’re currently running “Scary Movie 4” there. Pathetic! Was this the company’s vision when they restored this theatre? Somehow, I don’t think so. The kids who saw that flick this weekend know NADA about grand and epic cinema! They are in desperate need of a 70MM history lesson. What better place than this theatre! Just picture it: the same films that the Ziegfeld showed on a screen that is worthy of their glory! At the very least, can AFI take a page from American Cinematheque and run their own 70MM Film Festival here? Imagine the possibilities!

dennis906 on April 7, 2006 at 7:38 am

The Dome is the most unique theatre in Los Angeles.

socal09 on March 15, 2006 at 12:21 pm

Just attended a screening for the first time at the ArcLight. Fantastic multiplex theatre. Assigned seating, ushers in the theatres actually guiding people to their seats, very confortable seats and great sound and picture quality. Decor is somewhat minimal. Too bad the movie, Ask the Dust, was a big beautiful bore.

JSA on March 8, 2006 at 6:22 pm


Thank you for the Columbia Pictures 75th Anniversary info.


William on March 8, 2006 at 4:22 am

The screen at was installed at the Dome was 86 feet by 32 feet with a 126 degree curve. The louvered screen at the Warner Cinerama was 76 feet by 28 feet with a 146 degree curve. If you go back stage and look at the front lip of the stage behind the current screen you can see the original curve that was cut into the stage for the Cinerama screen.

StanMalone on March 8, 2006 at 2:26 am

While bigger is certainly better when talking about the screen size, assuming the proper light and focus are there of course, it is the ratio of the dimensions that are the key. Anyone who was lucky enough to make it to the Neon Movies in Dayton during their Cinerama days can attest to this. I doubt if the place held 300 seats, and the screen was no bigger than one you would see at some megaplex throwaway house. However, it was a ribbon screen, the curve was perfect, and the relation of height to width was exactly right. And, the projection booths, which were located in the back corners of the auditorium and in the lobby, were level with the center of the screen. I always sat on the fourth or fifth row and had as great a movie going experience as if I had sat at the equivalent seat at the Dome or Seattle, which I hope to do some day.

haineshisway on March 7, 2006 at 8:30 pm

Sorry, but as Dave Strohmaier, the fellow who made the documentary on Cinerama, will be happy to tell you, while the screen may in fact be huge, it was NOT as tall as the Cinerama screen at the Warner Cinerama or any other of the original Cinerama screens.

Coate on March 7, 2006 at 7:08 pm

The Columbia Pictures 75th Anniversary festival was held during February 1999.

As to the comment re “the Dome was never designed to house a true Cinerama screen” — I don’t believe this comment is correct. The Dome WAS designed to be a 3-strip Cinerama house. It wasn’t until very close to its completion that a decision was made to install the non-slatted screen and only 70mm projection. United Artists, the studio that produced the Dome’s debut attraction, “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” wrestled throughout its production as to how best to release it, and this is well-documented in the industry trades. UA’s original plan was to release the film in 3-strip.

And to say the Dome doesn’t have a tall enough screen — come on! The screen is huge.

haineshisway on February 15, 2006 at 4:20 pm

I’ve been going to the Dome since it first opened with Mad World. One thing that hasn’t been pointed out and should be is that one of the reasons their current three-panel Cinerama isn’t quite the real deal was their inability to install a proper slatted Cinerama screen. Hence, the projection is not as bright as it should be. The other lesser problem is that the screen really isn’t tall enough – the Dome was never designed to house a true Cinerama screen. I saw Seven Wonders of The World, HTWWW and Brothers Grimm, all at the Warner Cinerama on Hollywood Blvd. and it was a higher screen (and maybe even a bit wider) – I’ve never seen anything like it before or since, and the image was incredibly bright and beautiful thanks to the louvered screen.

JSA on February 15, 2006 at 3:28 pm

I got the above dates from the program that was handed during the engagements (I’ve been doing some spring cleaning!). I recall a later date for Columbia’s 75th Anniversary, but can’t exactly remember when. I just hope they bring back those films, right where they belong!


HowardBHaas on February 15, 2006 at 3:01 pm

I see a comment above about Philadelphia’s Boyd, a former 3 strip Cinerama house, being restored. It won’t have the orchestra booths to project Cinerama, but the historic movie palace will survive!
We found some Cinerama sound equipment tossed into old storage space. There was an old, not too exciting Windjammer poster, and I’m not sure if it was tossed. It was on the floor and not too clean. And, a ticket price sign for This is Cinerama, which we have for exhibit of the Boyd’s history.