Seattle Cinerama

2100 4th Avenue,
Seattle, WA 98121

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9-19-13 Cinerama screen for 70mm film festival

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. It had a capacity of 808 seats.

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. In the Fall of 2014 it was closed for remodelling, reopening in November 2014 with a reduced seating capacity of 570.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 221 comments)

Redwards1 on September 21, 2016 at 11:16 am

Thanks for the short comment on Patton. Was it shown on the Cinerama curved screen as the director & Dimension 150 process intended or was it shown on the flat screen? When Fox started allowing Todd-AO presentations to be shown on flat screens the process was considerably less impressive. I saw Can Can in Todd-AO at the Century Cinerama in Minneapolis & shortly thereafter at a reserved seat showing in Milwaukee, but the screen was flat & the presentation quite inferior though it claimed to be Todd-AO. Again, I saw Cleopatra at the Rivoli in New York on a curved screen & it was shown in Boston on a flat screen during the same initial release, both advertised as Todd-AO. I hope programming for the 70mm festivals can accommodate use of the deep curved Cinerama screen for films that were intended to be shown on it.

Zubi on September 21, 2016 at 12:59 pm

It was only the flat screen, but still very impressive (best showing of the festival, at least of what I saw). Our boys depicted shredding through mud and snow, tank treads and mechanized juggernauts, the high-tech war rooms, wide landscapes with countless explosions, cool uniforms everywhere, and the general’s pageant-like entry into Palermo. It was like no widescreen spectacle I’ve seen before. Very modern and gritty but also epic and stunning at the same time. I think that there was some chatter on Facebook about why the theatre didn’t bring out their curved screen (logistics or money or something like that). But now that I’ve read your note, I wish, of course, that they would have. The Cinerama-Hollywood ONLY uses their curved.

pnelson on April 28, 2017 at 7:16 pm

I saw a couple Cinerama films back in the day at this great theatre. 2001 was just one. I also saw Blade Runner in a cinerama sized similar process at this theatre in the 80’s and Days of Heaven here too in this similar process. Exit door to exit door width. Identical to cinerama. It’s great this wonderful place was saved from the wrecking ball. Only wish the UA 150 was also saved. Also a huge screen and the best presentation always. Have seen countless films there as well. Lets not forget the Orpheum, Music Hall, Coliseum, Palomar, Liberty, Wilkes, Northgate, and Egyptian in University. The Cinerama at least was saved.

Flix70 on August 7, 2017 at 8:37 am

Seattle Cinerama’s annual 70mm Film Festival takes place August 24-Sept 6. For films, dates and showtimes visit

HowardBHaas on August 7, 2017 at 8:50 am

One of the highlights of this year’s 70mm festival will be what seems to be the only surviving 70mm print of “Sleeping Beauty” Classic movies filmed in 65mm shown in what will likely be great prints will include 2001, Lawrence of Arabia, Khartoum, It’s a Mad (etc) World, Spartacus, West Side Story, Patton, Tron, and Baraka. Vertigo wasn’t exactly 65mm but is another classic filmed especially well, with a great print. More recent films entirely or partly filmed in 65mm include The Hateful Eight and Interstellar. 35mm blowups to 70mm (often including more surround sound than regular 35mm) include Top Gun, The Dark Crystal, The Thing, Aliens, Star Trek VI, Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman, Inherent Vice, and The Untouchables. If I have anything inaccurate, feel free to say so.

Flix70 on September 27, 2017 at 11:49 am

In anticipation of “Blade Runner 2049” opening Thu., Oct 5, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner: The Final Cut 4K Restoration” will get an exclusive one-week engagement @ Seattle Cinerama beginning Fri., Sept. 29. Three to four shows daily through Wed., Oct. 4. Lobby display cases will feature original BR costumes and a cyberpunk event will kick off opening night. More info @

Seattleprojectionist on December 7, 2017 at 6:44 am

Two recent (12/6/2017) booth photos added.

JackCoursey on September 16, 2018 at 10:26 am

The Cinerama hasn’t been a true Cinerama for at least the past five years. The giant, signature screen has been replaced with a shorter flat one and only single projection is used. On the plus side, they do periodically run 70 mm engagements and the digital presentations are state of the art. It would be great to have the Cinerama screen restored.

Redwards1 on September 16, 2018 at 11:15 am

The labor intensive shift from deep curve Cinerama screen to flat screen is very inefficient. The Bradford England shift process seems more sensible with the flat widescreen dropped in front of the Cinerama screen.

moviebuff82 on September 16, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Is it true that this theater is the most profitable theater in Seattle?

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