Las Vegas Cinerama

3900 Paradise Road,
Las Vegas, NV 89169

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JimPerry on June 28, 2018 at 5:15 pm

After reading the above comments, here’s what actually happened to the Las Vegas Cinerama: After the first run engagement of the 3rd “Dirty Harry” movie, “The Enforcer”, manager Art Bailey decides “enough is enough” & closes the theatre. (This happened around January of 1977.) A month later, the building reopens as “The Las Vegas CENtERAMA” (with the ’t' looking like a cross). The building was taken over by a reverend / preacher / pastor / whatever named Sharp. (Sharp “suckered” celeberties, like Elvis Presley, to donate “big bucks” for him to buy the building. Sharp’s original plans, along with turning the theatre into a christian church {and NOT a Korean one, as previous stated above}, included additions, like a non-gaming hotel & a christian school / pre-school. Sharp, through some kind of deal / negotiation with Bailey, starts running Sunday Morning sermons at the theatre in early 1976.) Sharp, keeps running movies – although the majority of them are either religious-based or family-type ones. Because Sharp isn’t charging admission prices and/or asking for donations (to keep his “future dreams alive”), the CENtERAMA eventually closes as well (unknown on when this happens).

In 1983, I was the non-union film projectionist for the Huntridge Twin theatre. Not long after I started working there, there was talk about “Roberts Theatres” “expanding operations” (Roberts, along with running the Huntridge, also ran The Mountain View triplex)– “Bob Roberts” (real name: Bob Garganese) wanted to reopen the Cinerama (as a 2nd / sub-run house, just like what he was doing with both the Huntridge & the Mountain View). Unfortunately, the Hughes Corp.(owners of the property that the Cinerama was sitting on)“wanted TOO MUCH money for a monthly rental”. I believe it was sometime in 1984 that the building was demolished to make way for what is there now – A STUPID MONEY-LOSING “MINI-MALL” (if you can call it that).

In regards to David Reed’s comments on “Last Summer” – Yeah, it was kinda disturbing towards the end (I saw it, as a co-feature to “Easy Rider” at the long-gone Skyway Drive-In. And yes, you are right about “Last Summer” originally getting an ‘X’ rating. However, believe it or not, it wasn’t so much about the rape scene (maybe) – the film originally got an ‘X’ due to a couple of scenes with Barbara Hershey (an early film for her) – in this one, she was either nude or, at least, topless. Hershey' character, “Sandy”, was also a bitch & “a prick tease” – hence the nude / topless scenes, which the M.P.A.A. thought was a “bit too much” at the time. As for the rape scene, “Sandy” couldn’t stand “Rhoda” (played by Cathy Burns, who also got an Academy Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actress), so she "eggs” the 2 guys (played by Richard Thomas & Bruce Davison – this was their first movie)with cries of “DO IT!”

Trivia: The Las Vegas Cinerama, 2 years later (1971) shows, as a first run feature, “Red Sky At Morning”, a reunion film for Richard Thomas & Cathy Burns. In 1972, the Cinerama also runs, as a first run feature, “Ben” – a sequel to 1971’s “Willard”. Although the Cinerama doesn’t run “Willard”, the beginning of “Ben”, shows flashbacks, during the opening credits, of Bruce Davison as “Willard”.

More trivia: the Cinerama shows as a co-feature to “Ben” – a ‘PG’ rated movie about murderous rats – “Night Of The Living Dead”. And yet when this happened, the theatre gets complaints – not so much about “Ben” but about “THAT GROSS, ZOMBIE FLICK!” (By today’s standards – it’s the summer of 2018 as I write this – “Night Of The Living Dead” is practically “tame”, compared to TV’s “The Walking Dead”.)

LVFireCapt on September 20, 2014 at 4:46 am

I saw Jesus Christ Superstar there. And Billy Graham there as well!

All good however this theater was not torn down and replaced by The Hughes Center.

Reason being this theater was situated on the east side of Paradise Road and The Hughes Center is on the West side of Paradise! Even the pin in the picture shows it!

coyoteii48 on July 8, 2014 at 11:55 pm

I was a Freshman at Gorman 1965 when my Dad and I saw “Battle of the Bulge” the surround sound was awesome and I can still hear the squeaky metal tread links, in my head, as the Tanks seemed to roll over the audience. I was really jacked leaving the show, until I crossed paths with my scary, History Teacher, on the way out. As he glared at me and says “Mr. Wiley”, and he wasn’t talking to my Dad. The Dude was Scary!

fikester on October 30, 2013 at 11:29 pm

I saw Gran Prix at this beauty with my dad. He would always take the kids to movies with him on week nights. It was awesome. The one memory that is truly etched in my mind was when Planet of the Apes was playing, the ushers were wearing ape masks. At the time I thought that was the coolest thing.

KimF on January 17, 2013 at 5:10 am

Just to note… The theater was actually located across the street from what is now the Hughes Center. There’s a strip mall with restaurants, etc., in its place.

Loved the Cinerama! Saw “Night of the Living Dead” for the first time there, plus tons of other movies.

coffee4binky on May 13, 2012 at 1:51 am

Now I’m angry! With Caesar’s Palace removal of the Omnimax, and this theater gone …

David Reed
David Reed on March 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I worked at the Cinerama in 1969 with Nancy Friggle, Nancy LeSeur and a girl whose last name was Salyer, her brother’s name was Bob.

I do not recall the first film I saw here, but I can say it was as early as 1965, in the 7th grade while attending K.O. Knudsen Jr. High, when I lived nearby in an apartment near of Reno and Koval lane, an area known then as “Churchill East”.

There are two films I remember very well that played while I was working there; Franco Zeffirelli’s “Romeo & Juliet” and “Last Summer” with Richard Thomas. I am still moved by this depiction of “Romeo & Juliet” and enjoy reviewing it to this day. The other, nnnnnnnot so much.

The 2nd is a very disturbing film, originally given an X rating, then later it was given an R rating after edits to a scene depicting rape. I am not sure which we played, but I do recall the rape scene as very graphic and was surprised we were showing it. Then again, I was only 16. After seeing this, I was never able to watch “The Walton’s” and see any innocence in Richard Thomas.

I was paid $1.10 per hour and all the popcorn I could eat. I was 16, in 11th grade at Vo-Tech.

Our doorman was named Paul something, I seem to recall it as Germanic, like Dorfmann or Dortmunder, & he was two years older. I’ll remember it later, I’m sure, because it was an odd name.

Our manager was named Mr. Bailey, an overweight, florid-faced, hard-drinking, often gruff man, and his Asst. Mgr. was Mr. Bagwell, a tall, salt & pepper haired man, with an easygoing manner.

The night before his graduation, the doorman filled the trunk of his ‘63 Chevy sedan with ice & beer and we all made numerous trips to the parking lot for a cold one. During the last showing of the night,(Gone With the Wind", Paul and I climbed the scaffold behind the screen carrying two large metal garbage cans. At the point where Brett takes Charlotte in the embrace and kisses here, we dropped the cans within the scaffold and it created a hell of a commotion as they clattered their way to the floor. We were able to escape the building, pretending to police the lot. No one but Paul and I ever knew FOR SURE who did it.

A typical night had us making a large batch of popcorn and placing it in very large plastic bags, then unpacking any recent deliveries of supplies and stocking the candy counter. Also, we would haul up and/or down film cans to the projection booth.

Then police the parking lot, and be ready for the moviegoers, in uniform.

Once all the patrons were seated, and the film had begun, we went to work cleaning the bathrooms and doing maintenance on the lobby.

This meant applying furniture polish to the lobby walls paneling, then cleaning all the mirrored walls along each side of the entrance, and lastly cleaning the 20' high glass panels & doors that fronted the lobby all across the entrance.

It was a great place to view a movie and had an awesome sound system for its' day.

I can’t recall his name today, but one of the projectionists was also one of my Dad’s sponsors into the I.A.T.S.E. Local 720 Stagehands. Dad retired from the Local after 30 years, a Gold Card Member, with 25 years at the The Tropicana, in the Folies Berger Theatre (that is another story in itself, the room was commissioned by Sammy Davis, Jr. as the “Superstar Theatre” and was a staging and acoustic dream of its' day) as the Head Soundman. I joined the Local in April 1974 and quit working the stage in Aug 1995. Today at age 58, I am drawing my pension which I took 10 years early.

I left Las Vegas in 1998, moving my 2nd wife and 10 yr. old daughter to SW Missouri, seeking a better quality of life than was present in Vegas at the time.

I could never live there again, as it is, but feel I was fortunate to have lived, and worked there, during the best of times possible.

I have learned in my travels since 1998, which includes all 49 States in North America, and Ontario, Canada, is that rather than demolish architecture for new growth, most communities preserve it.

I have seen so many historical sites that would have never survived the culture in Las Vegas, and rue the destruction of the past so prevalent there.

As you can tell by my post, I have a passion, and yet a distaste, for Las Vegas. Well, after all, I did live 34 of my 58 years there. Came of age there in the 1960’s started two families there, and still have family there.

Once it is in your blood, there are two things that never leave; Show Business & Las Vegas!

Break a leg!!!

Stunko on June 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Lot of reminiscing folklore posted here about this one, that’s good. Let’s keep these amazing memories alive for the next generations.

The stretched aluminum roof was mind-bendingly novel back in 1965, perfected the year before at the NY World’s Fair.

First movie i saw here was “Earthquake” back in 1974. I lived in Hollywood, CA back then, where the film actually takes place, came up to Vegas for a few days and saw the flick there. They hauled in those giant subwoofers and placed them up front and in the rear of the auditorium. Two or three times during the movie, the low-frequency effects started, it was really something to experience that for the first time. I swear a couple of my tooth fillings got loosened in the mayhem.

Interesting that this theater was called “Cinerama,” of course it was built for Cinerama Corp, it’s just they never really showed any Cinerama movies here, the projector was 70mm. So, they showed Todd-AO, Super Panavision 70, and Ultra Panavision 70 type of 70mm movies mostly with 6-channel surround sound.

According to the article linked here, the screen was 90-ft x 43-ft in size, that makes its aspect ratio 2.091. A bit strange, considering that the Todd-AO and similar presentations were shot with spherical lenses in the 2.20:1 aspect ratio.

By 1976 I moved to Las Vegas to attend UNLV, and I was a production assistant on Clint Eastwood/Sandra Locke flick “The Gauntlet” the day they blew up that ambulance parked on the drive off of Paradise leading to the Cinerama. The whole movie crew incl. Eastwood stayed at the Jockey Club on the Strip (just south of Flamingo).

Altogether, this was a heckuva wonderful cinema, world class and cutting edge. My heart broke when it was “turned over” to a Korean church. So, it’s perhaps better now that it’s demolished, we will always have its memories from the glory days.

richjr37 on July 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Wow! How desperate were they for programming? LOL!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 25, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Rich and Claud: “My Fair Lady” was filmed in Super Panavision 70, one of the early competitors of Mike Todd’s Todd-AO. It was released in both 70mm and in a 35mm anamorphic version for theaters lacking 70mm equipment.

richjr37 on May 25, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Whoops! Wrong theatre. I meant The Cinedome 6 on Decatur. Sorry.

richjr37 on May 25, 2009 at 9:21 pm

I saw “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 70mm(i think)here while on vacation in 1987.

richjr37 on May 25, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Claud,MFL was not filmed in Cinerama. I believe it was flimed Cinemascope. Can anyone verify?

oldthudman on March 10, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Was in the USAF stationed at Nellis….We went to see My Fair Lady (1965) at the LV Cinerama…..Great movie and while I’ve seen it MFL on TV numerous times, it’s nothing like seeing it in Cinerama….

It’s ashame cinerama wasn’t continued………..

barrygoodkin on April 7, 2008 at 7:58 pm

The architect for the Las Vegas Cinerama was Perry Neuschatz. The contractor was E. L. Farmer Construction Company of Phoenix, Arizona. It was a partnership of Harry L. Nace of phoenix and William R. Forman of Pacific theatres.

KimF on September 9, 2007 at 7:50 am

Hey Paul… The Cinedome Six was at Decatur and Desert Inn, right? That’s a Smith’s grocery store and strip mall with other shops now. There’s a Sinclair gas station on the corner. I think the Cinedome Six closed over 10 years ago, but I’m not sure of the actual year.

Lannesman on September 8, 2007 at 9:18 pm

I so remember the Fremont (grindhouse) theatres. Saw many a sleaze flick there in the late 70’s, early 80’s.
I also really loved to go to the Red Rock 11. That was THE show place to hang for us young dating kids. Was hard to jack into extra shows though, an usher at every door. Damn them. I was an usher at the Cinedome Six theatres for a while…what a cool place too! Nothing yet on this site about it. Does it still exist?

Bloop on July 3, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Richard W. Haine- EXCELLENT STORY!

lasvegaslynn on February 23, 2007 at 1:50 pm

The Dome was on the east side of Paradise off of Viking. It was a great theater. I saw the anniversary roadshow version of Gone With the Wind there as well as The Three Musketeers, the Hindenburg and countless others.

In addition to the Dome and other theaters mentioned above there was the Huntridge Theater (endangered). The Fremont Theater downtown next to the Fremont Hotel. The Guild was originally the Palace Theater back in the 1940s and 1950s. The El Portal was also downtown. It was the first air conditioned theater and had a balcony. It’s only signage was a rooftop neon sign. It is now a Gift Shop.
As noted, the Airdome was the first theater in Las Vegas and dates back the late 1910s and early 1920s. There was also the Majestic which was located near today what is the eastern bullnose of the Golden Nugget. There was also a theater in the 1910s called the Isis also on Fremont Street near what today is the eastern end of the Pioneer Club.
Also, built in the early 1970s, the Red Rock Theaters which in its heyday boasted eleven theaters under one roof. It was torn down about a year and a half ago.
Also, in the 1960s there was the Fox Theater at the old Charleston Plaza Mall on East Charleston. I saw Sound of Music, countless Disney movies and the Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno as well as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The sign is in the neon boneyard.

EnnisCAdkins on September 12, 2005 at 11:00 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the Las Vegas Cinerama Dome built as a partnership between Harry Nace Theatres of Arizona and William Forman’s Pacific Theatres of California? I remember in the early 1070’s Pacific booked the theatre and Nace operated it.

johnnybatters on August 27, 2005 at 3:11 pm

Yeah now I remember, the sunset turned into a teen hangout where they showed Jimi Hendrix films. We use to go there and drink beer and smoke. Oh how I miss going to the drive-in. Especially in winter when they use to have the car heaters. Even though winters here in Vegas are mild it still got cold enough. Nothing was better than A good movie, a heater, a cup of hot chocolate, and one of those drive-in pizza’s to make for a fun night. Hah-hah!

KimF on August 27, 2005 at 1:50 pm

Whoops… The Desert 5 actually became the Century Desert 12. Yowsa!

KimF on August 27, 2005 at 1:21 pm

Nope, just one on Boulder Hwy. Trust me. :–) It was the Skyway Drive-In. The one you’re thinking of downtown just came to me (I think… LOL) It was The Guild. My mom and I went there a couple of times.

The Sunset was definitely on Cheyenne… I spent a lot of Friday and Saturday nights there. The on at Lamb & Sahara was the Desert 5 Drive-In. It always had five screens. Then it was the Century Desert 5 Theaters when it was converted to a walk-in. Now it’s a pathetic parking lot full of half-dead trees and graffiti. Bummer.

johnnybatters on August 27, 2005 at 8:35 am

TeriAvenueKim – Wow you got a lot of great info that brings back a lot of memories. That theater I thought was on main st was really on 1st between Bridger & Carson. It’s where the Golden Nugget parking is now. It was right across from the Clark County Jail. And the name I think was called the Main theaters.

And I thought the Sunset drive-in was on Boulder Highway. I know there was the Skyway and another drive-in further down on Boulder highway. Could it be the Sky-Vue? Because I know there were two drive-ins on boulder HY. Not the one that use to be on Lamb and Sahara.