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The Denham Theatre underwent major overhaul in 1959, not 1951, in preparation for the 70mm Ultra Panavision roadshow engagement of “Ben-Hur”. MGM had much input into the overhaul, including mounting surround speakers in the ceilings in recessed fittings, not in speakers inside cabinets on the side and back walls. Two Norelco DP70/35 projectors were installed and fitted with purpose-built Ultra Panavision lenses. Studio engineers visited the theatre every month or two to tweak the projection and sound. The 12khz surround guide channel was especially troublesome for some reason.
MGM was also most insistent that the title of their movie be spelled “Ben-Hur”, with a hyphen. On the building’s two-sided neon sign mounted on the corner of the building, the letters were altered to read BEN-HUR rather than DENHAM. The hyphen was not neon but two metal plates fastened one on each side between the N and H. Later these letters were altered again to read EXODUS in very expensive blue neon for that movie’s run, then changed back to DENHAM. The hyphens disappeared.
I remember these things because I worked at the Denham as an assistant manager for several months during the “Ben-Hur” engagement, and later visited to get my fix of 70mm roadshow extravaganzas like “El Cid”, a studio preview of “Mutiny on the Bounty”, and “Mediterranean Holiday” which, along with “Windjammer”, seen at the Tabor Grand, pushed me toward my eventual career as a sea captain. Not bad for a geeky kid from Denver.