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Giles, I did not get a chance to see African Queen or Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I did see Close Encounters at the Cinerama in the same format and it looked and sounded impressive. Regarding your reply to Chris on January 19, read my post above. The “regular” screen at the Seattle Cinerama is not nearly as deeply curved as the screen at the Arclight Cinerama. There appears to be no major issues with DP presentations at Seattle.
Giles, the regular screen used at the Seattle Cinerama is not the deeply curved screen shown in the photo above. Since the theater’s restoration in 1999, a slightly curved 70 foot wide screen has been placed in front of the true Cinerama screen and is used for all screenings except periodic 70MM and Cinerama festivals when the “flat” screen is dismantled. I have not been there since digital has been introduced, but I’m assuming everything is fine.
Speaking of 70MM and Cinerama festivals, the new independent operator has stated that there will be festivals in 2011. When they’re announced, I’ll be sure to post. It’s been a few years since Cinerama has been projected on the giant curved screen.
The Cinerama will debut its new 3D system when the Tron sequel opens there in mid-December. How it will look, I’ll never know since I am unable to view 3D.
This means that Harry Potter will only be there for four weeks, and that’s a good thing. Rapid turnover is essential for single screen theaters to survive. Those long, forced runs with the same film playing past its “sell by” date spell nothing but doom. I hope this is a sign of things to come.
35mm for sure…and everything else in my last post. Since Paul Allen renovated the Cinerama, it’s been a major venue for many film festivals (Seattle International, Jewish, Gay and Lesbian to name a few) and not everything shown at these festivals is digital, to which I am very thankful. Nothing beats projection of FILM when it’s done right!
When the Cinerama renovations are complete, they will be able to present 16mm, 35mm, 70mm, digital, 3D and three-panel Cinerama. The only format missing is IMAX and Seattle has a fine real IMAX theater about a half-mile away.
I have not heard what digital system will be used, but I’m sure it will be the best Paul Allen’s money can buy.
Syufy/Century never owned or managed the UA Cinema 70-150 aka Sixth Ave Cinedome. In the early 90s after UA vacated the ‘dome’ for the first time, two Seattleites, both with film exhibition background, one of them a good friend of mine, took over the lease of the UA and the King across the street. Vowing to make going to the movies fun again, the large theaters (the 70 seated 500, the 150 about 800 and the King 900) were programmed eclectically with a mix of of first run Hollywood product, 70mm festivals, week-long salutes to directors (one such salute to Stanley Kubrick was truly memorable featuring nearly every film of his career up to that time). Two of the three cinemas (the 150 and the King) were outfitted with 70mm six-track Dolby, and all three theaters featured large screens, especially the 150. Prices at the snack bar were incredibly reasonable with just one size popcorn priced at $1 and candy costing just a bit more than the grocery stores. My friend even got a local phone company to lower the price of a phone call (remember, this was before cell phones) from 50 cents to ten cents. Although the big-studio Hollywood films shown there were for the most part lesser product (mostly from Warner Brothers or Fox), the Cindedome won a reletively small but very devoted following. Due to the varied programming, there was almost always something to see on one of the screens each week and often more than once a week. Perhaps the crowning achievement of the Dome’s history (about three years) was a week-long revival of Star Wars in glorious 70mm showing in the same theater (the 150) where it had originally played for over a year. The theater sold out all performances and, if my memory is correct, that booking may have been the first of many Star Wars revivals across the country for the benefit of local charities.
Alas, the dream didn’t last. Studios were increasingly ignoring these great theaters and my friend was finding it more difficult to book Hollywood films. At the same time, widespread use of VCRs was ruining the repertory business and in 1994 (I think), they were forced to shut down. UA took over the 70-150 again and ran it into the ground as a dollar house before finally giving up on it in 1999 (or so). The King sat vacant for several years before a local jazz club owner turned it into the King Cat Theater.
So that’s a brief history of the Sixth Avenue Cinedome. Most people today probably would draw blank stares when asked about it, but for those who knew about it, it was one of Seattle’s great cinematic treasures for three glorious years.
As for use of the term “Cinedome?” My friend asked me about using it, and I advised that Syufy marketed many of their theaters under that name and that there might be legal issues. I don’t know if he checked with his attorney, but the name was used and he never heard a peep from the boys in California.
“Wonder where it opened in Seattle” Neeb
I remember seeing Apocalypse Now in Seattle as if it were yesterday. For whatever reason, SRO Theaters booked it into the Town Theater, definitely not one of their prestige houses (heavy action and blaxploition titles were the normal fare there) but I give SRO credit where credit is due. They put in all new projection equipment for the 70mm print (including, I believe, Seattle’s first platter system), as well as a new sound system and a temporary giant screen placed in front of the proscenium.
I was there for the first matinee showing on opening day and the transformation from a rather ordinary cinema into a 70mm showcase was amazing. I’ll never forget the opening scene with the sound of the helicopter blades surrounding us in the theater.
The only drawback on that opening day was that the film broke four times, due to the new platter system as the manager explained to us. Nevertheless, the film’s impact was not lost on me or the rest of the audience. I shall never forget it.
The Columbia City Cinema is now a triplex with two small 100 seat theaters added on the street level. The original cinema is located on the second floor.
The gym is still there. Urban outfitters is located next door in the same shopping complex.
From 1978 through its closure in 1989, the Ridgemont was operated by a local art-house chain, Seven Gables Theaters. Seven Gables was later purchased by Landmark Theaters. Prior to 1978, the Ridgemont operated as a porn theater.
I had the opportunity to see “The Untouchables” last Thursday and what an experience it was. The print the Cinerama obtained was flawless with no scratches or color fading. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that the print had just come from the lab—it was that good!
There’s only one screening left on Tuesday, March 3, at 8 PM. If you’re in the Seattle-Tacooma area, do yourself a favor and see it.
The Seattle Cinerama is to be commmended for bringing back these films. Unfortunately, the only advertising for the series is on their website. There were only about 20 people in the audience when I saw it and, with numbers like that, I can’t imagine them continuing this series. So I’ll just repeat what Bob Jensen said above: “To keep 70mm films coming to the Cinerama, please go see these films!”
Muvico may have the capability to project in 4K but until digital product is released in 4K, it won’t make a bit of difference. It’s kind of like 35mm vs 70mm. A theater may be equipped for 70, but if the print is 35, then 35 is what you’re gonna get.
With all due respect, Leon…
First off, the Seattle Cinerama is not the only three-panel Cinerama theater in the US. The Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles is also equipped to show original Cinerama and has for the past few years on a sporadic basis (as has the Seattle Cinerama).
Second, when Paul Allen bought the Cinerama, he was thinking out of the box. Sure, the big curved screen is impressive, but showing any 35MM print (especially scope)on that screen results in a horrible distortion of the projected image as well as creating a focusing nightmare.
Now, I can’t speak to the theaters you mentioned, but it’s very possible that those screen curvatures were at 120 degrees (a lesser curve) vs. the Cinerama’s 146 degrees (a very deep curve). The problems I mentioned above are not as evident on a 120 degree screen, but still are an issue.
Thirdly, don’t forget that the Seattle Cinerama is a business. Removing the “flat” screen and then putting it up again takes many man hours and results in lost revenues. It is not a cheap undertaking.
When the Seattle Cinerama schedules another week-long Cinerama/70MM festival, you can be sure that the flat screen will come down. And, as I’ve stated before, I will post details here as soon as it is announced.
There are some factual errors in this theater’s description:
1) The separate theater, known as the Everett Mall IV-V-VI, was built in the early 80s with three identically sized houses—whether they were 250 seaters or 300 seaters I cannot say. Additionally, a few years later, four more theaters were added onto the IV-V-VI creating the Everett Mall 4-10 (by this time, GCC dropped the Roman numerals). These newest theaters were much smaller than the others ranging from 150 to 200 seats.
2) AMC bought out GCC when the latter went into bankruptcy and ran them for a time before closing them. Regal stepped in afterwards to operate the I-II-III solely to keep out other competitors as they proceeded with plans to open their Everett Mall 16.
Therefore, the number of seats should be changed to 2500 and the number of screens should be corrected to read 10.
You’d think so, but the United Drive-Ins/Pacific Theaters newspaper ad says that it’s the Valley 6 Drive In, therefore the name should NOT be changed. Should the number of screens be changed? That’s up for debate…
The Cinerama’s website states that the “film is aged with discoloring.” Awkwardly worded, but at least they’re being truthful.
The Valley DI is open again for at least another season. Their ad in the Seattle Times appeared today with the usual three screens opening. The others will open when the weather turns nicer.
Walked by the King the other day, and the marquee states that theater is opening soon and gives a phone number for bookings. Looks like live shows will again be featured.
Just to set the record straight, these theaters will not be “cramped 40 seat screening rooms” as stated by TheaterBuff1 on April 1st. As I stated earlier, the 40 seat houses will be in theaters originally designed for 300 seats, hardly what I call cramped.
Being a resident of the Seattle area, I have visited this theater many times in the past. It was orginally built by Loews/Cineplex and it was one of their best designed and run operations in the Puget Sound market. Screens are large and slightly curved, and the seating in the original layout ranged from about 125 to 300.
I would imagine that the 300 seat house will seat 40 patrons. That’s a lot of space per person, so I would think that a major selling point will be privacy and the abundance of space.
I think this idea will work IN THIS LOCATION. Redmond Washington is the home of Microsoft and there is a lot of disposable income just waiting to be spent at an upscale operation such as this. The theater is located in an upscale “life-style” mall, and the mall managers are looking to bring in even more of those dollars.
But for this to work, Village/Roadshow better do the following:
1) Book it smart, meaning stay away from titles such as National Treasure 2 or College Road Trip. Titles like There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men and the like will do well.
2) The food better be good. The greater Seattle restaurant scene is recognized as one of the finest in the country, so there’s plenty of competition in that area.
3) Hire union projectionists. If I’m going to pay $35 for a ticket, I want a first-class operation. Union projectionists aren’t a 100 percent guarantee, but the likelihood of a professional presentation is certainly greater.
4) No advertisements or silly slide shows. This should be a no-brainer, but one never knows…
The serious moviegoer in me can’t wait for this to open, but my wallet may have something to say about it. I’ll certainly check it out at least once and report back here. By the way, I don’t have a lot of disposable income.
In the end, I suggest that everyone keep an open mind about this concept. To compare ticket prices is grossly unfair, since we’re talking two totally different business models that both just happen to show movies.
And TheaterBuff1, not sure what you’re getting at with the comparison of this concept with watching a film in first class on an airplane. 40 people in a theater originally designed for 300 tells me there’s a lot space available, certainly a lot more than a first class airplane cabin.
A friend of mine saw Lawrence on Sunday and said that the presentation was flawless and that the print was excellent. She also said that the theater was about ¾ full, which is quite impressive for an early Sunday show. I’m planning to see it next Sunday. I’ll post my impressions afterwards.
It certainly is impressive on the big Cinerama screen and of course is the optimum way of seeing it.
Periodically, the Seattle Cinerama schedules week-long 70mm/wide screen festivals usually featuring two or three 3-panel Cinerama films. This is when they pull out all the stops and use the massive Cinerama screen. Although it’s been a couple of years since the last one, I’m hoping there will be one in the not too distant future. When one is scheduled, I’ll be sure to post here.
“2001” will NOT be shown on the curved Cinerama screen. The logistics of tearing down the “regular” screen and reassembling it afterwards are just too time-consuming (and costly) to perform for only two showings (on separate days, with regular programming shown in between).
However, “2001” will still look spectacular on the “regular” screen. Just be sure to sit below the crossover aisle for best viewing.
Last time I drove by (about two months ago), it was still standing, but vacant.
John Harvey did bring his personal “cobbled together” print of HTWWW for the premiere of Cinerama in Seattle under the Paul Allen era, but subsequent showings have utilized the newly-struck print, and it looks fantastic on the Seattle Cinerama screen.
I have not experienced Three Strip Cinerama at the Dome, but I can say that the Seattle Cinerama is the only TRUE Cinerama theater left in the country. While Pacific Theaters should be commended by bringing back Three Strip to Southern California, that screen (as noted above) uses a single sheet, which has a curvature of 120 degrees, while the Seattle Cinerama uses a proper louvered screen with the original deeper 148 degree curvature.
It’s been about three years since Three Strip Cinerama has last been shown in Seattle, so I’m hoping that it’ll be brought back soon. I’ll post here as soon as I hear anything as I am an acquaintance of one of the Cinerama projectonists (he works the Abel booth). If he hears of anything, he’ll let me know.