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 223 comments)

pnelson
pnelson on April 28, 2017 at 10:16 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
Flix70 on August 7, 2017 at 11:37 am

Seattle Cinerama’s annual 70mm Film Festival takes place August 24-Sept 6. For films, dates and showtimes visit https://www.cinerama.com/News/July-2017/Announcing-70mm-Film-Festival.aspx

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on August 7, 2017 at 11:50 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
Flix70 on September 27, 2017 at 2:49 pm

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 @ https://www.cinerama.com/Movie.aspx?fc=5106000440&day=19976

Seattleprojectionist
Seattleprojectionist on December 7, 2017 at 9:44 am

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

JackCoursey
JackCoursey on September 16, 2018 at 1:26 pm

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
Redwards1 on September 16, 2018 at 2:15 pm

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
moviebuff82 on September 16, 2018 at 4:42 pm

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

RussM
RussM on October 4, 2018 at 5:08 pm
      John Sittig , on the Cinerama Dome page, said that they hope to have a three-strip Cinerama showing next year, after he has had a chance to get the projectors in shape. Is there any hope that Seattle Cinerama might do it again, or is that a lost cause ? The digital restorations are great, but for Cinerama old timers like myself, it's all about the process, not the content.
                  
Redwards1
Redwards1 on October 4, 2018 at 7:37 pm

I agree the 3-projector original Cinerama is in a class by itself when it comes to putting the audience in the picture. Of all the Cinerama installations I have viewed, the Cooper circular auditoriums were the most effective. Both the Minneapolis and Omaha Cooper Cineramas were torn down years ago. They featured floor to ceiling screens and 3 individual projection booths at the rear of the steeply raked main floor. Their shallow balconies placed viewers in the action unlike the balcony and rear of the main floor at Seattle Cinerama, which is quite distant from the screen. The Los Angeles Cinerama Dome screen has a noticeable tilt to accommodate the steep projection angle from the booth at its rear. We have yet to build a theatre where today’s audiences can see Cinerama at its best.

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