Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 10, 2006 at 3:36 am

Here’s another ad from December 1959 featuring L.A. area drive-ins: 39 of them! (wow)

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Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on September 1, 2006 at 6:26 am

On closer inspection of the ad, there weren’t midnight shows every night – only Fridays and Saturdays. Still, that’s pretty cool – I would’ve loved being able to stagger out of the Dome at 3 AM onto Sunset Blvd. after seeing “Mad, Mad World”.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on September 1, 2006 at 5:37 am

And…of all those drive-ins listed in the “Palm Springs Weekend” ad, the Vineland is the last man standing!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 31, 2006 at 7:24 pm

… and a midnight show every night! Those really were the good old days.

JSA on August 31, 2006 at 6:08 pm


Thanks for the posting! Ten sold out evening shows!

What really gets me is that “Cleopatra” was playing in Todd-AO less than a mile away at the Pantages !!


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.