Seattle Cinerama

2100 4th Avenue,
Seattle, WA 98121

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Seattle Cinerama

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Seattle’s Martin Cinerama opened in 1963 using the original Cinerama 3-strip projection technique. But with a shift underway towards 70mm projection, the theater was altered just a few months later, although the enormous curved screen was kept.

The 70mm Cinerama screenings lasted until 1969, when the theater switched to more conventional 35mm projectors. Eventually Cineplex Odeon took over operations. By 1997, the theater was struggling and developers swooped in with plans to repurpose the theater.

Very quickly, Seattle Cinerama lovers began a grassroots effort to save the theater. A year later, Paul Allen (of Microsoft fame), bought the theater for $3 million. Soon after, he orchestrated an immense restoration project that enhanced the theater’s appearance and returned it to its roots—showing films in the Cinerama format.

Re-opened in 1999, the Seattle Cinerama Theater is now one of only three operating Cinerama theaters in the world. This beautifully restored shrine to Cinerama is now one of the most technologically advanced movie theaters ever erected.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 191 comments)

droben on August 19, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I think they will be using the deep-curve screen only for the three strip Cinerama films since those screenings are all scheduled on the final weekend. Just a hunch…

HowardBHaas on August 20, 2013 at 5:03 am

No, though your guess is logical, they posted as a reply comment on their most recent Facebook post that the curved Cinerama screen will be used the entire time, for 70mm films as well as Cinerama and at least 2 of the films- 2001 and Patton were meant for a curved screen. I’m sure most people are happier with this choice. The Cinerama films may be clustered together because they need a projectionist for each of the 3 projector booths needed for Cinerama but that’s just my guess.

HowardBHaas on August 20, 2013 at 5:06 am

Oops. Their post was all to be on curved Cinerama screen. I’m interjecting the original way 2001 & Patton were meant to be seen. More on those 2 films- Wikipedia says theater savior Paul Allen paid for a new 2001 print last year. I saw a fantastic print several weeks ago of Patton, at AFI Silver Theatre.

egcarter on August 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm

The Seattle Cinerama will get the first permanent commercial installation of Christie’s new 4K laser digital projector in Feb. or March of 2014, replacing their current 4K Christie system. The new projector is capable of up to 60,000 lumens, and will handle both 2D and 3D presentations.

HowardBHaas on August 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I sure hope this extremely rare surviving Cinerama house continues to show 2001 (and other classic 70mm films) and How the West Was Won. Paul Allen paid for new prints of those films. I myself have no interest in those other films you mention.

KenLayton on August 26, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I’d want to see films in their original Cinerama projection process on film not digital video projection.

MrRsoc on September 4, 2013 at 8:46 pm

To Ken’s comment…I wonder if there is a technology that can take the digital elements of the blu-ray (BD) restoration of How the West Was Won and create a utility to stitch the seams together as beautifully as is done for the BD. The BD is quite amazing in SmileBox on a “large” projected HT screen. The seams are all but invisible. If the 2K files made of each strip for the BD were used to create a 6K Cinerama screen at DCI specs, projected with laser projectors, that could be quite an impressive “restoration” for the big screen events. Ahem..Mr. Allen…we have an idea. ;–)

I’m all for purist screenings of the three 35mm strips, but a big screen “digital” Cinerama could be pretty cool.

paulnelson on April 5, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I saw Blade Runner here once in an expanded Cinerama size presentation years ago. Special lense? Don’t know but it appeared to be just as expansive and large as the Cinerama process. Great! Also Days of Heaven.

edlambert on May 3, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Recently Dave Strohmaier exhibited snippets of the Smilebox restoration of “Cinerama Holiday” on the full Cinerama screen at Bradford, UK. It is an improvement to see the film without the jiggling that couldn’t be helped when three filmstrips were being run in the three projectors required for the original Cinerama process and presentation. I neglected to ask Dave whether the original seven-track sound system was preserved or that a downsizing to fewer tracks was employed. You can see the presentation here:

Redwards1 on July 10, 2014 at 4:46 pm

The 70mm single projector presentations of films originally in 3 projector Cinerama at the Cinerama Festival at the Cinerama Dome in LA had little of the impact of the originals, with the exception of South Seas Adventure which was restored by an outfit in Austin, Texas. The sound on all the 70mm presentations was nothing like the original 7 channel Cinerama sound.

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