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. It was closed in early-February 2020 for refurbishment.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 237 comments)

Redwards1 on February 9, 2020 at 9:26 am

Goodbye Mr Chips shown at the Colosseum in 70mm. Sound of Music shown at the Music Box in 70mm. Both were first run Seattle theaters in city center.

bigjoe59 on February 13, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Hello from NYC-

to MSC77. NYC is a big city comprised of five boroughs. but if one eliminates all the neighborhood theaters in the other four boroughs Manhattan alone had countless theaters. but if we narrow our search to just the 1st run theaters that have existed in Manhattan that’s still a hell of a lot of theaters. my question being simple. when I clicked om “all theaters” for Seattle all that comes up is five theaters. you mean in the entire history OF Seattle there have only been 5 movie theaters?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 13, 2020 at 1:31 pm

Link to Seattle page

bigjoe59 on February 13, 2020 at 2:39 pm

to Mike(saps)– many thanks for your reply. Boys Scouts Honor the first two times I tried only 5 theaters ever showed up. I have no idea what I clicked on. speaking of Seattle. its interesting none of the 7 theaters the studios used for their roadshow engagements in Manhattan(Criterion, Loews State, RKO Palace, Demille, Warner, Rivoli and Loews Capitol ever wound up showing “adult” films. that apparently is not the case in other cities.

Redwards1 on February 14, 2020 at 4:25 pm

I’m not sure how the current observations apply to the Seattle Cinerama, but it was heartbreaking to see a gem like the United Artists in Detroit run into the ground with adult films and neglect. The United Artists in Los Angeles is often referred to as a twin, but is in fact much larger and more elaborate and beautifully restored. What happens to theatre buildings is a direct reflection of the health of their community. That does apply to the Seattle Cinerama.

bigjoe59 on February 14, 2020 at 4:49 pm


since I was talking about the fate of the prime roadshow houses in New York as opposed to Seattle I think it was a valid comment to make.

MSC77 on February 18, 2020 at 1:33 pm

bigjoe59: Regarding the New York roadshow houses you have been citing here and elsewhere, is there a reason you haven’t been including the Royale (Gigi), Sutton (The Blue Max), Coronet (The Taming of the Shrew), Fine Arts (The Charge of the Light Brigade), 57th Street Lincoln Art (The Lion in Winter), Ziegfeld (Marooned), or the Columbia (Young Winston)?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 18, 2020 at 2:05 pm

Or how about the Liberty (Birth of a Nation)?

JackCoursey on February 18, 2020 at 2:09 pm

The Cinerama is currently closed for “upgrades”. Does this mean that it is going to be divided up into a multiplex?

bigjoe59 on February 18, 2020 at 3:21 pm


to MSC77- in my original post discussing Manhattan’s roadshow houses during the prime period of Sept. 1952 to Dec. 1972 as opposed to Seattle’s I listed the 7 that were “regularly” used. though they are/were fine theaters the Royale, Sutton, Coronet etc….. were not “regularly” used as roadshow houses.

also to Mike(saps)– you are correct in that the Liberty (which is now used as an event space for the adjacent Hilton Hotel) was used for the roadshow run of The Birth of a Nation Feb. 1915 it doesn’t fall into the time period I stated.

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