Overlake Cinema I & II
14505 NE 20th Street,
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This cinema opened as a twin-plex circa 1974, and the larger auditorium was split into two a few years later. The architecture was simply suburban cinder block (cheap), but the lobby extended forward with a lower roof height for a pleasing effect. It was located in a small strip mall called Sternco Center between downtown Bellevue and Redmond at the SW corner of NE 20th Street and 148th Avenue NE.
The original large auditorium had about 600 seats, the smaller had about 400 seats (my memory fades a bit). The screens had black masking (not movable) and did not have the traditional General Cinema shadow box. There were no curtains, but it did have the blue screen lighting during intermissions.
The split job was terrible, an undecorated blue wall was put down the middle, and the seats were not even re-aligned to point to the centers of the screens (the seats near the new wall actually were oriented toward the wall). The wall did not match the wall on the other side anymore, and the effect was of being in a tunnel with a tiny screen. A terrible, terrible butcher job by General Cinema. Movies were generally first run (“Murder by Death”, 2Earthquake", “The Deep”), but they had trouble booking this cinema properly, and a lot of under-performing movies (“Bobby Deerfield”, “The Christmas that Almost Wasn’t”) were played, making life tough for the staff of a twin-plex.
The projection room originally had two Century 35mm projectors for each auditorium, with Christie lamphouses and had automatic changeovers. Lenses had to be changed manually. When split, platter systems were added. Union projectionists (IATSE)were employed, and the staff also unionized within a year or two of opening.
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