Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas

6360 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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bigjoe59 on May 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm


i haven’t been out to L.A. since the spring of 2004 at which time the Pacific up on Hollywood Blvd. was still boarded up and unused. now the last time i was out when it was still a first run venue abet a tri-plexed? one didn’t the downstairs main auditorium have a deeply curved screen? if i am not mistaken the Pacific along with the Cinerama Dome was used for reserved seat runs of Cinerama films both 3-strip and single lens 70mm ones. or is it possible they removed the curved screen when the Pacific was decommissioned as a movie theater.

CSWalczak on May 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I agree, EdSolero; add to that the fact that recitification, in the view of many, did not help all that much, which may be why it was not used on 70mm Cinerama films shot in Super Panavision 70 or Technirama 70. I remember seeing “Mad World” at the Palace in Cleveland on its deeply curved Cinerama screen and there was still some splaying at the extreme edges. ‘Bulge" looked better at the Great Northern, but the screen had a shallower curve.

I can’t recall where I read it years ago, but Stanley Kramer was not totally happy with the way the initial presentations of “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” looked at some of the roadshow venues as screen sizes, throw, and other factors caused varying amounts of distortion even with the rectified print.

Giles on May 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm

as a matter of archival purposes, I think it would behove studios to encode the film as it originally mixed with the LE and RE channels on the DCP harddrive edition. DCI (digital cinema initiative) specs have the extra channels in place already, but no one has implemented them yet… With theaters adding more and more speakers/channels into the fray (Barco 11.1 Auro, Dolby Atmos, 7.1, etc), the non-use of the LE and RE seems like a glaring omission and needs to be rectified.

RogerA on May 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm

There are a few curved screens left on the planet. lists a few of the active theaters showing wide format films many of them have curved screens.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

That’s along the line I was thinking, CSWalczak. I just wonder, with movies now being stored as digital files, rectification might be something that could be virtually replicated. Of course, there are probably a very select number of screens in the world that would require such work to be done – no matter how easily completed the manipulation of data would be. Apart from the three extant Cinerama facilities, are there any deeply curved screens left on the planet?

RogerA on May 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm

That is a problem that needs to be corrected as without the LE and RE channels there are two distinct holes in the sound field. This is only a problem in venues like the Dome where there is a Ultra large screen. The movies that the sound was mixed to end up with five screen channels should be able to be played back in the format they were meant to shown in. It is unfortunate that the sound mix that was used for so many big films has been remixed to eliminate the Left extra and Right Extra channels.

Giles on May 11, 2012 at 9:07 am

so I gather since DCP does not encode the left center and right center channels of sound (typical in the standard pre-1977 70mm configurement), Ben Hur’s DCP soundmix mirrors what’s on the bluray – three front channel + stereo surround

CSWalczak on May 11, 2012 at 6:49 am

I could be wrong, but I doubt that any prints of “Ben-Hur” were given the rectification treatment for curved screen presentation based on Martin Hart’s information on the Wide Screen Cinema Museum site. My impression is that the only films for which specially rectified prints were ever produced that were those shot in Ultra Panavision 70 from 1963 on that were specifically intended for initial roadshow presentation “in Cinerama”. This was not the case with “Ben-Hur” which came out in 1959.

This would appear to limit the list of films for which rectified prints were made to “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Khartoum,” “The Hallelujah Trail,” and “Battle of the Bulge.” It does not appear that just because a film was originally lensed in Ultra Pan 70/Camera 65 that recitified prints were automatically made. I suppose that a rectified print of “Ben-Hur” could still be made, but I doubt that anyone would go to the bother and expense.

RogerA on May 11, 2012 at 6:34 am

Yes, Ed the image was such that it would project onto a deep curved screen. A special projection lens was needed for flat screens.

Todd-AO made special prints to correct for screen curve for keystone and other distortion caused by the angle of projection.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 11, 2012 at 5:34 am

So, Ultra-Panavision, meaning a rectified image for the curvature of the screen?

chspringer on May 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I was projectionist back when Ben-Hur was first released. After the roadshow ended, the theater I work at ran the film on 35mm. The wide image of Camera65 was letterboxed into the 2.35 frame so no picture information was lost. Sounds like the 4K digital is doing the same thing.

jsittig on May 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm

BEN HUR, Doctor ZHIVAGO and GWTW are all in 4K

Giles on May 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm

oh, so they did what Rialto did with the recent rerelease of ‘Lola Montes’ and place the wider aspect ratio image inside a scope 2.35 framing. Isn’t the movie on a DCP hard drive? Is it 2K or 4K?

jsittig on May 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Zubi, I just ran a little of BEN HUR. Warners has done an excellent job in restoring the original Camera 65 (ultra-Panavision) image. The TI chip has information edge to edge, but there are black bars at the top and bottom of the regular “scope” image to give it more width. You will see a little more information than you saw at the Dome in 70mm as that was a spherical print with 220: x 1 aspect ratio. John

Zubi on May 10, 2012 at 1:45 am

Jsittig: Did you see my follow up question on May 8 at 3:29p? Will this Sunday’s digital showing of “Ben Hur” be the same projected image size as that film’s 70mm performance in the Dome in 1990/91?

jsittig on May 9, 2012 at 10:15 am

r1_83 In the Cinerama Dome were use five JBL 4632 three-way ScreenArray speakers for L-XL-C-XR-R behind the screen plus 6 JBL dual 4642A subwoofers. In the auditorium, we have 48, JBL 4630 surrounds We use QSC amplifiers, Dolby CP650 processor for standard presentations and a modified CP200 for magnetic 7 channel playback for Cinerama. We can also play 35mm and 70mm DTS, and SDDS 8 channel. projection on Kinoton EP75 for 35/70mm, 3-Century Cinerama projectors and 2 Christie Solaria 4230, 4K digital projectors

rl_83 on May 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Mr Sittig – Can you comment on the sound system at the dome? I visited the Dome on vacation last year and was blown away. Curious to know what you have behind that enormous screen :–)

Zubi on May 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Mr. Sittig – Thank you for responding to my questions. Just one final clarification, if I’m not being too much of a nuisance. When you say that 4K’s picture size is the same as “film”, do you mean the same as 70mm film projection as presented in the Dome? I ask because, as you know, whereas 35-scope and 70 are often the same projected image size in smaller (multiplex) auditoriums, that is not the case with very large screens such yours. I’m not as knowledgeable as you are regarding widescreen formats such as “Ultra-Panavision”, etc. However, my recollection of your early 90s showing of “Ben-Hur” was that the masking was pulled back to its outermost settings (picture nearly to ceiling and incredibly wide). Alternatively, “El Cid” in ‘93, which was in 35-scope at the Dome, had heavy masking dropped way down and brought in, even though it too was a widescreen. Will your upcoming showing of “Ben-Hur” in the Dome be akin to the former or the latter? Thank you.

Flix70 on May 8, 2012 at 8:37 am

jsittig: I see Ben-Hur does play a couple of other times throughout the weekend at Arclight but it’s only at the Dome for the one showing(Sun, May 13). Sorry, just not the same experience on the other screens. This is the type of film that should get at least a one-week run at the Dome, like The Godfather did a few years back.

CSWalczak on May 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Sadly, that is something that most likely will never happen again, at least not at the Dome.

RogerA on May 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm

The best show I remember was back in the 90’s when the Dome ran 2001 in 70mm. It was a good mag 6 channel print.

jsittig on May 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Ben HUR as well as the other films will be playing more than once throughout the week

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on May 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I saw “Ben-Hur” at the Dome during its final weekend before it shut down to build ArcLight back in Summer 2000. It wasn’t a 70MM print…but it was definitely shown in 2:70:1 aspect ratio! I clearly remember the techs having to expand the side making beyond their 2:40:1 point in order to fit the whole image on screen. Unforgettable!

I think I posted this exact same info a few hundred comments before this one. :)

RogerA on May 7, 2012 at 11:13 am

We need a good 70mm festival in Los Angeles? So few theaters can run 70mm these days especially reel to reel.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

I saw the 4K Ben-Hur at Lincoln Center in NYC last October on a 50-ft. screen, and it looked indistinguishable from 70mm (to me, anyway).