Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Cinemas

6360 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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Showing 201 - 225 of 1,127 comments

Richie_T on May 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Thanks, Zubi… great insight!

RogerA on May 15, 2012 at 11:44 am

Your memory is not distorted 2001, My Fair Lady, West Side Story etc. were spectacular in the roadshow versions. Film still is the superior image especially on large screens and wide gauge. The cost of film especially for release prints is the problem.

Zubi on May 15, 2012 at 10:18 am

Mr. Sittig: I was asking, of course, about the screen SIZE of your 4k showing for “Ben Hur” (versus a 70mm 6-track magnetic presentation of same) and not the AMOUNT of in-frame image retained/cropped, etc. I was speaking of the actual masking in the auditorium; while you were referring to the virtual masking for the image itself (i.e. black bars). Naturally, the in-frame composition is subsequently projected and therefore no minor matter. However, I was simply trying to find out if this week’s digital showing would be comparable at all to the enveloping, extremely “large” (both visually and aurally) 70mm performance of “Ben Hur” at the Cinerama-Hollywood in 1990. Since we’re talking about a movie that is, after all, on television every Easter and Christmas—fully letterboxed and in beautiful HD, the paramount question for many of us concerning so sharp/expansive a picture is, frankly: how big is the theatre screen? Since I still wasn’t able to ascertain that from your nonetheless very thoughtful answers, I decided to just go find out for myself.

In answer to Giles and for those interested (and forewarned of my tendency to idealize film): I found the 4k format certainly serviceable but far from the magnificent, event-like splendor of the 1990 70mm engagement. The size of this Sunday’s “Ben Hur” showing was comparable to a 35mm scope projection: the picture was about 15-20% shorter than a 70 presentation at the Dome; and neither did it extend as far to the left or right as 70 in that venue. As Mr. Sittig indicated, this digital showing, like with the HD letterbox version on TV, is a more elongated picture (i.e. with a wider aspect ratio because of less cropping on the sides). And certainly more image/less cropping is always better than the reverse. However, the 4k picture overall is a much smaller projected image than a 70 performance in the Dome. The picture resolution was likewise decent. In fact, some scenes I have to admit popped more in digital. However, other scenes were much darker (too dark) and the focus overall was soft—particularly away from the center of the picture. Speaking of which, the aperture plate (if there is such a thing on digital projectors—I haven’t been in a booth in decades) appeared to be slicing off the two bottom corners. Also, for some reason, the auditorium masking wasn’t brought in over those black bars and on the sides (i.e. set to properly frame the readable image) to achieve a nice professional, finished look. Instead there appeared empty screen on all four sides of the picture. I know sometimes auditorium masking is left ajar for sound or technical reasons but it looks like the devil. The digital soundtrack was very good but it sounded strained at times. At least as far as my extremely subjective recollections go, 6-channel magnetic stereo still seems to me to be a richer experience. Of course, it’s always possible that I’m allowing my prejudice in favor of film to distort my memory on these matters. However, I don’t believe such is the case. I really have no problem with digital projection/sound for regular movies (they look and sound great). However, 70 in the Dome is still overall a much better experience—particularly for a giant epic like “Ben Hur” and for a large-screen theatre with a name and expectations like “Cinerama”.

Giles on May 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm

and … and ?? how did ‘Ben Hur’ look on the Dome screen?

Cliffs on May 12, 2012 at 11:22 am

Monday evening Ben Hur added in the Dome for all those that couldn’t get away on Mother’s Day.

RogerA on May 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm

You are referring to the old Warner Pacific on Hollywood blvd. At one time this theater was used to run reserve seat Cinerama films but the Cinerama screen was replaced with a smaller flatter screen (not sure when). In the 70’s I attended a 70mm festival in New York at the Strand Theater This was also at one time a Cinerama Theater. I marveled at the huge (90+ feet) screen and talked at length to the projectionist. His comment was' “you should have seen the screen before we cut it down in size.” So most of the deep dish screens that were used for Cinerama and Todd-AO were replaced with more conventional sized and shaped screens in the late 60’s early 70’s.

CSWalczak on May 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm

bigjoe59: See the Pacific’s entry here on CT here. It has been used as a church and for some industry events, but it needs serious repair and renovations.

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.