Hawaii Cinerama

1550 South King Street,
Honolulu, HI 96826

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Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 6/6/68

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Situated just outside the Waikiki area, this theater was Honolulu’s oldest operating movie house and one of its few remaining single screen palaces.

The Cinerama theater was actually constructed in 1928 and opened as the New Pawaa Theatre on 3rd January 1929, with a beautifully atmospheric Spanish-style interior. The theater was overhauled in 1962 and renamed the Cinerama Theater.

Through the 1990’s, the Cinerama continued to be a haven for classic and second run films. However, with profitability hard to come by, the theater was closed in 1999, bringing an end to a grand chapter in Hawaii’s cinematic history.

The former Hawaii Cinerama, the theater that delighted millions, is now an auto parts store.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 102 comments)

Vito on October 8, 2010 at 7:54 am

I was chief of projection and sound for both Consolidated and Royal theatres during the eighties. When the movie “AC/DC Let There Be Rock” opened at the Cinerama in 1980 the studio arranged for a special sound system be installed. At the time we were still running the original Cinerama system which was an eight track channel system that did not provide the kind of power the studio wanted for the movie. My only complaint was that it was a mono system which surprised me but that is what they wanted. Opening night we received many complaints from our neighbors because the sound was so loud it could be heard all over King Street and was disturbing, we had to turn it down a notch. But my goodness did the Cinerama ever rock.

The Marina at the time had what I considered to be the best sound system on the Island, it originally had a very simple mono system but later we installed Dolby in both auditions with a sound system developed and designed by a fella by the name of Joe Schmidt. Joe was a very talented sound man who did one heck of a job at the Marina. New amps, speakers and Dolby processors were installed and the sound was magnificent. Later when we had a move over of “A Star is Born” from Waikiki #3 we installed a four track magnetic system for the engagement.

I have to mention that Oahu had many excellent sounding theatres thanks to the talents of Joe Schmidt and Wesley Inouye who were my sound techs, a couple of very talented sound people who knew their way around theater sound. Joe is retired now I believe Wesley still works for Consolidated. There were a few very dedicated people like Joe and Wesley along with another very talented projection technician by the name of Scott Bosch. Those three individuals made Hawaii theatres look and sound as well as any theatre could. I owe a lot of thanks for their help in making our theatres look and sound as good as they did during my time in Hawaii.

magicman1433 on October 8, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Thanks for the info, Vito. I wish I would have seen “Let There Be Rock” just to hear that sound system. Yeah, I remember seeing other features here & thinking that sometimes, it was just a little too loud (i.e., certain scenes in “Alien”). The Marina was a great little twin that featured a lot of great movies. Too bad they had awful hot dogs. I really miss these theatres. Multi-plexes just don’t work for me!

dcubs on March 17, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Absolutely loved this theatre. The last film I saw here was THE MATRIX. The sound system in this theatre was the best, next to the Waikiki #2. I also remember seeing the revivals of 2001, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and BLADE RUNNER in the 90’s. I get a little misty whenever I drive by the building and see Checker Auto Parts in it’s place.

Simplexbob on March 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm

New to the Cinema Treasures site. Fascinating to look back at theatres one remembers from their youth. I remember while visiting my mother in Honolulu in the late 1940’s and early 50’s my movie theatre going experiences. The New Pawaa, later the Cinerama was just a block from where we lived. In those days most island neighborhood theatres did not have air conditioning, but instead had large louvered windows on the side walls which let in the trade wind breezes. Do other members remember that? Sad to read that so many of the old standby houses are no longer there.

thisisjohnbook on January 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Many movies viewed here, but I clearly remember seeing “Star Wars”, back when there was a line around the block to see it. I went with my mom and grandfather, who dressed up as if he was going out on the town.

sartana on September 13, 2013 at 8:49 am

Klipsch and Associates' ad announcing the installation of the Awesome HPS-4000 sound system at the Hawaii Cinerama.

BoxOffice March 1989

Vito on September 13, 2013 at 9:38 am

It all began back in 1981 when John Allen recommended and arranged for us to test Klipsch speakers in our theatres; we installed the first one in the new screening room at Consolidates home office. Before I left the company plans were being made to begin installing the speakers in all the theatres. John also designed a magnificent system for the Waikiki #3 theater using Klipsh TMCM speakers. A new 70mm system was installed under the brilliant direction of Cosolidated’s Wesley Inouye who did all the wiring himself. Even the 35mm optical mono system was amazing so great someone said it sounded better than a 70mm sound system in most theaters. To which Allen quipped “wait till you hear the mag 70”

sartana on September 29, 2013 at 9:14 am

So the Cinerama was equipped with HPS-4000 for 10 years before it was closed in 99.

Such a shame, first it was the Cinerama, then the Waikiki theatres, and finally the morons at consolidated decided to remove the HPS-4000 from the newly built Ward theatre. Apparently they fell for the marketing scam of these fake Imax systems.

Oh how I long for the old days.

Vito on September 30, 2013 at 6:53 am

It was all very heartbreaking to see all those magnificent theatres closed the worst being the destruction of the Royal and Waikiki #3 We had so many great plans in the early 80s to upgrade and improve all of those theatres with new sound and projection but then all of a sudden it was all over when the new administration came in and shut it all down. I had to feel especially bad for Wesley Inouye who put his heart and soul into the new #3 only to see it all torn down. All gone now, Cinerama, Waikiki 1-2-3, Kuhio and Royal, all that remains are a bunch of little boxes they call theatres but are nothing more than screening rooms.

papakolea51 on December 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm

The Pawaa Theater was almost like a home to us in the late 50’s and early 60’s. My grandfather, George E. Lake III, was the manager of the theater and conducted Saturday morning “kiddies programs” that included him performing magic tricks (he was also a performing magician), kiddie games while he played music (musician as well) and birthday celebrations before showing a Mickey Mouse or other kiddie show. Needless to say, we were there almost every Saturday when we weren’t playing sports. I miss those days…next to the theater was a small seed store operated by a nice old Chinese man. He offered seeds and preserves in big jars as well as 5 cent green river drinks! My grandfather later moved to the Princess Theater and Hawaii Theaters in downtown Honolulu. Those were the days!

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