Start your Los Angeles area historic theatre explorations by heading to one of these major sections:
Downtown | Hollywood | Along Wilshire | [more] L.A. Movie Palaces | Theatres In Movies
To see what's recently been added to the mix visit the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.

Navigating Your L.A. Theatre Tour

Welcome to the tour!  In addition to this Los Angeles Theatres site, I have four other websites devoted to historic theatres in the L.A. area. All the material on those sites is (slowly) moving over here. The version of the program they're hosted on is being discontinued. But the pages should be up and functional at least into the middle of 2018.

I'm currently working on the Hollywood theatres -- the goodies along Wilshire will be next up. The Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page will let you know what new items have been added either here or to the doomed web pages. My Theatres In Movies site might also warrant a look -- it's an ongoing project tracking which Los Angeles area theatres have showed up in films.

If you can't find what you're looking for, leave me a comment on this post or do an e-mail to counterb@gmail.com. See you at the movies!    -- Bill Counter

This site on a Mobile Device: If you find what you're looking for here on this post, terrific. But also note that you can go to the bottom of any page or post and click on "View Web Version" to get the navigation links at the top of the page and the long list down the right side.


Historic Hollywood Theatres

You'll find a an alphabetical list of the theatres in the district in the Hollywood Theatres overview section that includes a bit of data on each and links for more details. Down below this list there's also an alternate name directory.

Also of possible interest is a separate section with a list of theatres by street address.



 Movie Palaces Along Wilshire

This site explores the theatres along the Wilshire corridor from downtown to Santa Monica. The home page gives you both an alphabetical list of all the venues but also a list arranged by area -- it's a long street.

Also on this site is a theatre list by address, an alternate name directory, and a page on Wilshire history resources.


Historic Los Angeles Theatres -- Downtown

The home page gives a rundown on the 20 major surviving theatre buildings with links to their pages. You might also want to consult alphabetical rundowns on theatres west of Broadway, the Broadway theatres, Spring St. theatres and Main St. and farther east.

In addition, the site has a downtown theatre directory with both a list by address and an alternate name list.


[more] L.A. Movie Palaces

This site tries to fill in all the other areas of Los Angeles County. You'll find separate sections on theatres north of Downtown, San Fernando Valley Theatres, Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, theatres along the coast, and lots more. The home page has a rundown of many of the westside theatres not in Hollywood or along Wilshire Blvd.

And if you are still having trouble finding what you're looking for, these pages might help:
-- the main Los Angeles County theatres by address list
-- San Fernando Valley theatres by address list
-- San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier theatres by address list
-- the main alphabetical theatre list -- a list that also includes alternate names for each venue

Happy touring! Please let me know if you spot errors, links that don't work, etc. 

Earl Carroll Theatre

6230 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028
| map |

LOTS MORE COMING TOMORROW -- about 60 more photos! -- Bill Counter


A 1930s view of the Earl Carroll Theatre from the Los Angeles Public Library. You can see the image as a postcard in Elizabeth Fuller's Old Los Angeles Postcards collection on Flickr.



The Earl Carroll Theatre as a studio for Nickelodeon. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

News: The building has been declared a City of Los Angeles Cultural-Historic Landmark. Julia Wick on LAist had a December 8, 2016 photo spread of many vintage views along with the story "Hollywood's Earl Carroll Theatre Gets Landmark Designation." Patrick Lee had a December 9, 2016 story on L.A. Curbed: "Hollywood building that once housed lavish supperclub wins landmark status."  The new owners plan to erect a mixed-use building in the parking lot west of the theatre but will be retaining the theatre building in their plans and doing some restoration work. More details are at the bottom of the page.

Opened: December 26, 1938 for lavish Earl Carroll musical comedy revues. The exterior featured a 20-foot high neon silhouette of Beryl Wallace, one of the Earl Carroll girls (and Mr. Carroll's wife). The lettering around the silhouette said: "Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world."



A souvenir postcard of the theatre from the site Card Cow. They have thousands of great vintage
postcards to browse. Also see
another souvenir showgirl card on the site.

The theater was sold following the 1948 deaths of Earl Carroll and Beryl Wallace in an airplane crash. The theatre had a difficult time in the early 50s and in 1953 re-opened as the Moulin Rouge nightclub. It also had spells as a TV studio in the 50s, including use by "Queen for a Day."

From 1965 until early 1968 it was the Hullabaloo Theatre. In 1968 it became the Kaleidoscope. In late 1968 it was renamed the Aquarius for a run of "Hair" and other shows. In 1977 it was briefly known as the Longhorn Theatre. It was also called the Sunset Blvd. Theatre, the Star Search Theatre and (in 1993) the Chevy Chase Theatre. Other uses have included being a venue for Jerry Lewis Telethons and Filmex.

Seating: 1,000 -- in a dinner-show arrangement

Architect: Gordon B. Kaufman, with interior and exterior design work by Count Alexis de Sakhnovsky and Kaufman. The cost of the building was estimated at $500,000.

The stage featured a 60' revolve with separately operated inner and outer sections. There was also a water curtain, an orchestra pit lift, a small circular lift downstage center for a soloist and a revolving tower of four pianos stage right.

Status: It's been used since 1997 by Nickelodeon and known as the Nickelodeon on Sunset as their west coast production hub. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for more information on the plans for redevelopment by the new owner.

The Earl Carroll in the Movies: 



We see all the wonders of the great stage demonstrated in "A Night at Earl Carroll's" (Paramount, 1940). The plot is slim, but it doesn't matter. A mobster engineers a kidnapping of Mr. Carroll and the lead performers so there won't be a show. But quite a show we get! In addition to Mr. Carroll, the film features Ken Murray, Rose Hobart, J. Carrol Naish, Lela Moore and Forbes Murray -- and a cameo by Beryl Wallace. See the Theatres in Movies post for more shots from the film.




We get some nice aerial shots in the Jerry Lewis film "The Errand Boy" (Paramount, 1961). Here looking west on Sunset it's the Earl Carroll (here renamed the Moulin Rouge) on the left and the Palladium across the street. See the Theatres In Movies post for a Hollywood Blvd. aerial view and  visits to the Fox Westwood Village and the Chinese.



A vintage exterior photo of the theatre as the Earl Carroll that's used at the beginning of "Zoot Suit" (Universal, 1981).



Another exterior image from the opening. The end credits of "Zoot Suit" note that it was filmed at
the Aquarius Theatre, as it was then called. There are some shots of the audience in the auditorium during the film -- but we really don't see anything in the except seats. There are, however, some views of the lobby.



A lobby shot from "Zoot Suit" Thanks to Lanna Pian for the tip on this one. The Theatres In Movies post has several more lobby shots.



Thanks to the superb Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection for this 1939 view of the lobby. Yes, those vertical tubes at the top of the photo are neon. It's just one of many amazing views that the collection has of the Earl Carroll Theatre. Interior photos include: another lobby view | turntable construction | lobby stairs | table layout from above | 1949 show from above rear |

Exterior views in the Bruce Torrence collection include: at night - 1939 | 1940 night view | from the west | 1979 -- "Oliver" | another 1979 "Oliver" view | 1979 - "Ain't Misbehavin" | 1987 - as the Aquarius | And browse many more Earl Carroll Theatre photos from the collection.



The lobby in 2011. Thanks to Chuck Weiss for this one and his other photos that appear here. As of 2017 the building is still a production facility for Nickelodeon. In 2011 it was home to "Victoriuos," "iCarly" and other shows. Chuck, who was working in the building on "iCarly," reports that the owners were keeping the lobby in near mint condition. His Earl Carroll photos originally appeared on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles where you can see the comments they garnered.



The grand staircase in the lobby.  Photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011



The top of the staircase -- leading to the restrooms. Photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011



Looking down toward the exit. Photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011. He notes: "The original statuette is in excellent condition, and still greeting those who enter the doors of this amazing place." See the comments to his post of the photo on Vintage Los Angeles.



An elevator under the stage to take a dancer up to stage level. Photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011. He notes: "Under the stage of the Earl Carroll Theater, this is one of the tiny elevators the dancing girls would ride up to stage level. A corkscrew lift would take the scantily clad dancer up to an opening in the stage floor where she would be a part of the show."  The post of the photo on Vintage Los Angeles generated many comments about the building. 

 


We're under the stage looking at the rollers and track for the stage turntable. Photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011. He notes: "Apparently the rotating turntable stage had two separate movements - one part of the stage could rotate at a different time/speed/direction than another section. I'll have to crawl around the basement more to see how this was accomplished."



A detail of the rollers and concrete race that supports the turntable. Photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011



The motor for the turntable -- now disconnected. Photo: Chuck Weiss - 2011. Thanks, Chuck!

 

A 1940 view of the tire shop along the side of the theatre. Thanks to Michael Hayashi for the photo, a post on Photos of Los Angeles




A c.1946 card looking east on Sunset from the site Card Cow. The L.A. Conservancy also has a version of this card on their "issues" page. 

 

A great view of the theatre as the Moulin Rouge from the Card Cow site. Also in the collection: signature wall | night view -- as Earl Carroll | another night view |



Thanks to Alison Martino on Flickr for this shot in 1965 when it was called the Hullabaloo.





 A look east on Sunset Blvd from Argyle. That's the Palladium on the left. Photo: Google Maps - 2009 | interactive version

The future of the building: A December 9, 2016 L.A. Curbed article mentions "restoration" of the theatre but offers no details other than facade work. Which may be, along with preservation of existing deco lobby details, about all we get. Not to complain-- this is a better outcome than it looked like at the beginning of negotiations. LAist says the agreement with the owners "will ensure that one of the last remaining examples of modern entertainment venues constructed during the height of the Golden Age will remain for decades to come." But don't expect to go to a show. There is no program to restore the auditorium. It hasn't been a public performance venue for years and may or may not be returned to that use in the future -- it depends on what sort of tenants the building gets.

Escott O. Norton, of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, offers more details: "The developer says that the current tenant, Nickelodeon, will continue to use the property. When they choose to leave then the developers will look for a new tenant. They are not in the theatre biz, so if we can find the right operator for this unique property, it might very well be returned to a public venue. We were able to add protections for some of the interior elements, including the rotating stage which is currently covered by the production facility floor. Also, there will be some dedicated parking for the theatre, not nearly enough but some."

The building and its adjacent parking lot are currently owned by Palo Alto based equity fund Essex Property Trust. They're proposing to build a 7 story mixed use structure, the 6250 Sunset Building, in the parking lot west of the theatre that would contain 200 apartments and 4,700 sf of commercial space. The existing building would be retained and connected to the new via a "paseo."

The initial proposal from Essex contained no assurances that the theatre would remain an entertainment-related venue or that any of the remaining historic features (such as the deco lobby) would be preserved. Preservation organizations including Hollywood Heritage and the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation had negotiations with the developers regarding preservation of historic aspects.

The developers are planning to restore the facade to its 1938 look, including the vertical neon stripes on the Sunset facade and (eventually) the neon sculpture with the lettering "Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world." No cement signature blocks, however. The developers have expressed enthusiasm about retaining the deco lobby but there have been no assurances about the auditorium. Unlike the lobby, the auditorium has been extensively remodeled over the years. As of 2016, some of the original stage equipment (including the revolving stage) still remains in place.

The building may stay as a production facility if Nickelodeon leaves. Or get turned to other commercial use. Initially there was little chance it would ever again be a public venue as Essex didn't want to meet the necessary parking requirements. Now, with some dedicated parking, that possibility has been left open for the future.

It's unknown how much protection the City of Los Angeles landmark status gives the building. But it was a big step as earlier the developers had expressed an interest in applying -- but only after their work was completed. While much of the building has been altered, enough historic features remain to make the Earl Carroll also eligible for inclusion on the National Register. The developers have also talked about a facade easement to the L.A. Conservancy to obtain certain tax credits.

The Los Angeles Conservancy has a fine page outlining the project. Hit the "our position" tab for more information about their reservations about the project as originally proposed. Also see the Draft Environmental Impact Report from March 2015 and the Conservancy's comments.



Looking west on Sunset across the facade of the historic theatre toward the proposed new building. It's a rendering from a 2014 Curbed L.A. article by Bianca Barragan on the project "Here's the Latest Look for the Sunset-Vine Mixed User."

Thanks to Richard Adkins of Hollywood Heritage for updates on the project. He notes that "There are some good things to their plans for the new adjacent building. It has a facade on Hawthorne as well as Sunset in order to upgrade that street. They are borrowing rhythms and massing from the Carroll and they are restoring or returning elements of the vintage signage."

More Information: See Alison Martino's 2015 Los Angeles Magazine article "Uncovering a Secret Gem..." You Tube has a nice 2 1/2 minute clip from Robbies Video Archives "The Hullabaloo Club, Hollywood, 1966" with a nice discussion of its transition from the Earl Carroll/Moulin Rouge.

The Wikipedia article on the Earl Carroll Theatre has an informative history on the Hollywood theatre and Earl Carroll Theatre in New York City. Also visit their listing for Earl Carroll. See also the listing for Earl Carroll on Find A Grave.

Earl Carroll also was a film producer with titles including the cult-classic "Murder at the Vanities" (1933), "Stowaway" (1936), "Love is News" (1937), and "A Night at Earl Carroll's" (1940).

The Missing Plaques: The Earl Carrol had a whole wall of little plaques that were signed by the stars. In a June, 2011 story, L.A. Magazine's Chris Nichols answers a question about what happened to them:

"In 1968, a Dutch art collective known as the Fool replaced the nameplates with a psychedelic mural of Greek muses and stored the autographed pieces in the basement. They stayed there until 1979, when Magic Castle founder Milt Larsen acquired them for his Variety Arts Center downtown."

"Gene Autry lassoed them for his museum later that year. Finally, Butterfield & Butterfield auctioned off 104 of the plaques in 1989 and 1990. Two bearing the names of Norma Shearer and Amos ’n Andy had been left beneath the theater stage. They were put on display until 2006, when the property was sold again—it’s now the Nickelodeon Theater—and the owner gave the pair to the handyman."  As of 2015 some of the plaques were evidently still in the possession of Milt Larson. 

| back to top | Hollywood Theatres: overview and alphabetical lists | Hollywood Theatres: list by address | L.A. Theatres: main alphabetical listL.A. Theatres: list by address | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |

Century Theatre

5115 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027
| map |


A 1922 Charles W. Beam photo of the theatre as Hunley's from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. It can also be seen in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.

Opened: 1922 as Hunley's Theatre for owner Otis O. Hunley. It's in the 1922 city directory. It once had a a Robert-Morgan organ installed.

It was a class operation for years under management of Century Theatres, Statewide, Loew's and General Cinema. It ran as a first run site into the mid 1970's.

Architects: Meyer and Holler

Seating: 750

Status: Demolished after a fire in the late 1980's. The final years were as a gay porno venue.



Thanks to the wonderful Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection for this photo of the Century under Loew's management in 1972. In Hollywood Loew's also had the Holly Theatre and the Loew's Hollywood (aka El Capitan). Loew's exited the southern California market the year the photo was taken.



The Century Theatre in a 1982 photo from the website American Classic Images. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding it in the collection. He had it as a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Century.

| back to top | Hollywood Theatres: overview and alphabetical lists | Hollywood Theatres: list by address | L.A. Theatres: main alphabetical listL.A. Theatres: list by address | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |

Cinerama Dome

6360 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028
| map |


At 50+ the Cinerama Dome is still an arresting sight at Sunset and Vine. Note the newer 14 screen ArcLight complex showing at the rear. Thanks to Don Solosan for this 2009 dusk view taken for the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation.

Phone: 323-464-1478    Website: www.arclightcinemas.com | a page about the Dome |

Opened:  The Dome opened November 7, 1963 with a 70mm run of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." There was a press preview on November 2. The film ran 67 weeks. The theatre was designed with a big wrap-around booth for three-projector Cinerama presentations. However, by the time "Mad World" went into production, Cinerama had converted to an anamorphic version of the 70mm TODD-AO format.



Searchlights are in the sky over Hollywood for the opening of the Dome. It's a Hollywood Citizen - News photo by Peter Banks. Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality spotted it on eBay and has all the data on his Noirish post #7127. It's also been seen on the Facebook pages Vintage Los Angeles and Photos of Los Angeles. A four minute clip of the stars arriving at the new theatre is on YouTube.  

Seating: 937 originally, 856 at present. 

Architect: Welton Becket and Associates. The Cinerama Dome was the first concrete geodesic dome constructed. It was built in 16 weeks! It's composed of 316 pre-cast concrete panels, most of which are hexagonal, each weighing approximately 3,200 lbs. Saul Pick was the developer for the project. The building was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument on December 18, 1998.



A 1960 Herald Examiner photo of Becket with images and drawings of another of his many projects, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. He was also responsible for the Capitol Records Building and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A model of the Dome and a hotel to the west (which didn't get built). Thanks to Alison Martino for the photo on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page. The model was stashed away in Becket's office for decades and went on display at the theatre for the 50th anniversary celebration.



A Los Angeles Public Library photo by Howard D. Kelly looking east on August 5, 1963. It's one of many aerial construction views in their collection. The 18 story highrise beyond the theatre is the 1963 Sunset Vine Tower, the first such building to be constructed after the city repealed the 13 story height limit. It was designed by Douglas Honnold of the firm Honnold & Rex.



Another construction view looking north across the site of the Dome. That's Sunset Blvd. running left to right in front of the theatre. The RCA Building is rising across Sunset just to the left of the theatre. It's a Howard D. Kelly photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. More 1963 aerial views: a similar shot in b&w | looking northeast - b&w | looking northwest - b&w | looking east - color | looking northeast - color |



An article from the Boxoffice magazine issue of September 9, 1963. The sign says "'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' opens in 12 weeks." Total construction schedule was 16 weeks.  Thanks to Roland Lataille for the find -- it's on his Cinerama Dome page.



Thanks to Michael Coate's site From Script To DVD for this construction shot from the Pacific Theatres collection. It's on the Cinerama Dome page where you'll find many more great photos. Also see the site's This Is Cinerama in L.A. page for a history of Cinerama engagements.



Another 1963 progress shot from the Pacific Theatres collection appearing on the From Script To DVD Cinerama Dome page.



A construction photo of the work nearing the top. Thanks to Esther Fitzpatrick for the post on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.



Photos of the opening that appeared in the November 18, 1963 issue of Boxoffice. Thanks to Roland Lataille for reproducing the item on the Cinerama Dome page of his fine site InCinerama.com.



A 1963 lobby photo from the collection of longtime Pacific Theatres projection supervisor John Sittig. It appears on the From Script To DVD Cinerama Dome page.



The auditorium in 1963. It's a photo from John Sittig appearing on the From Script To DVD Cinerama Dome page.



An early view of the Cinerama Dome interior from an R.L. Grosh ad in the Boxoffice issue of January 6, 1964.

Status: Now wrapped around by the ArcLight Cinemas complex. The Dome was nicely refurbished in 2002 and is a great place to see a film. It's now using digital projection for regular runs but still retains film equipment for special showings.



 The doors are open - let's go in! Photo: Google Maps - 2012 | interactive version



The snackbar and the view toward the house right side of the lobby. Photo: Google Maps - 2012 | interactive version
 


Looking toward the center of the lobby from the house left ramp to the auditorium. The stairs go to the upper crossaisle. Photo: Google Maps - 2012 | 
interactive version



The lobby from the house right ramp.  Photo: Google Maps - 2012 | interactive version



The house right ramp from the lobby up into the auditorium. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF - 2009. The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation is active in preserving the historic theatres of the Los Angeles area and regularly sponsors events and tours. www.lahtf.org | LAHTF on Facebook



A 1988 Chris Gulker shot taken during a screening of the 70mm revival of "This is Cinerama." It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



Hiroshi Sugimoto's Theater Series resulted from a question he asked: "Suppose you shoot a whole movie in a single frame? And the answer: You get a shining screen. Immediately I sprang into action, experimenting toward realizing this vision." We don't know what film he saw at the Dome in 2003 but this was the result. A number of Mr. Sugimoto's photos of theatre auditoria appear on a Portfolio: Movie Theatres page from C4 Contemporary Art.



A 2005 shot of the theatre still with its original color draperies -- before the change to dark blue. It's one taken by Lori/Stutefish on Flickr.
 


A look toward the front curtain. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF - 2009 



The view from the rear of the house. Photo: Google Maps - 2012 | interactive version



A back of the house photo once on the website of Vista Entertainment Solutions, the company that one time provided the software for ArcLight. Looks like they changed vendors.  



"How The West Was Won" on the Dome's screen in a three-strip Cinerama presentation. The photo comes from a post about the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival on the Daws Bros. Studios blog



A panoramic shot taken from the house right side of the wrap-around projection booth by Edward M. Pio Roda graces Stuart Elliot's 2013 article "TCM Moves to Lure Film Buffs Out of Their Living Rooms." The article discusses TCM's efforts to extend the brand with film festivals, memorabilia and guided tours. On the Dome's screen is the 70mm presentation of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," as part of the 2013 TCM Festival in Hollywood. In this image the screen doesn't look very big but it's actually 32' x 86'. 



Looking back at the booth setup. Photo: Google Maps - 2012 | interactive version



The center and house left booth ports. Photo: Google Maps - 2012 | interactive version  
 

The Cinerama Dome in the Movies:


We get an aerial view of the Dome in "Earthquake" (Universal, 1974). The screenshot comes from Clifford Scott Carson on Vintage Los Angeles. The film ran at the Chinese, where Ted Mann put a net under the ceiling, allegedly to catch debris falling during the earthquake scenes.



We look down on the Cinerama Dome in a flyover of Hollywood in Julien Temple's "Earth Girls Are Easy" (Vestron Pictures, 1989). We don't stop as we're headed over the hills to the Valley. In "Earth Girls" we later get a shot of the Studio City Theatre. See the Theatres In Movies post for that one.



David Frost (Michael Sheen) and his girlfriend Caroline (Rebecca Hall) go to the Dome in "Frost/Nixon" (Universal, 2009) for the premiere of "The Slipper and the Rose," a 1976 film on which he served as a producer. Thanks to Jonathan Raines for spotting this one. Several more shots from the scene at the Dome are on the Theatres In Movies post.



We get to see the Dome in the David Strohmaier Cinerama film "In The Picture" (2012). Leonard Maltin did a blog post about the film and the rest of the "Cinerama at 60" festival. The photo here from his post is of the Dome, as it appeared in three-strip at the Dome itself.



The Dome appears prominently in David Chase's "Not Fade Away" (Paramount Vantage, 2012) as we look west on Sunset in the 60s for a lengthy shot that concludes the film.  See the Theatres In Movies post for several more shots from the scene.



In "Keanu" (Warner/Fine Line, 2016) We get a look at the Dome after our two stars, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, come out of a Liam Neeson movie. On the end panel: "Substitute Teacher." In this film about a lost cat we also see the Palace, Los Angeles and Vine theatres. See the Theatres In Movies post for more shots from the film.

A few exterior views:    



The premiere of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." It's a Herald Examiner photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The theatre was built with 3 strip projection in mind but opened with 70mm.

 

A look at the Dome during its grand opening in 1963 from Marc Wanamaker's Hollywood Historic Photos collection. Also check out more theatre photos on the site.



Thanks to Richard Wojcik on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles for this great postcard of the opening of the Dome with "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." Roloff de Jeu on Flickr has a version with "Glamourous Hollywood Premiere" across the top in his great "Cinema Postcards from the Americas" collection. The version Roloff has is also on Card Cow.



The Dome in 1963 with its opening attraction on the marquee. Thanks to Alison Martino for the photo on her Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles where it generated lots of comments.



A postcard from the site Card Cow with "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," the theatre's initial attraction, on the marquee.



A "Mad World" card from Alison Martino's collection that put in an appearance on the Mid Century Modern Los Angeles Facebook page.  A version of the same card appears on the Card Cow site.



A sparkling 1963 view looking east with "Mad World" on the marquee taken by George Mann. Thanks to Alison Martino for posting the photo on Vintage Los Angeles



A postcard view west on Sunset -- another using a photo taken during the "Mad World" run.  It's from the Richard Wojcik collection on Vintage Los Angeles

 

The theatre running "Greatest Story Ever Told." It opened February 18, 1965 for a 43 week run.  It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.  Richard Wojcik has a closer shot of the theatre taken during this engagement on Vintage Los Angeles.



A 1966 view with the Dome running "Battle of the Bulge" in "Super Cinerama." The film opened December 17, 1965 for a 27 week run. Thanks to Richard Wojcik for the post of the photo from his collection on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.



A 1966 postcard look east on Sunset Blvd. with a photo taken during the run of "Grand Prix." It's from the Richard Wojcik collection that appeared on the page for the non-public Facebook group Mid Century Modern Los Angeles.



The Cinerama Dome in 1968 during the run of "Camelot." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.



Getting decorated for the run of "Mame" in 1974. It's a photo from Ken McIntyre on Photos of Los Angeles.



More prep for the "Mame" premiere. Thanks to Ken McIntyre on Photos of Los Angeles for the shot.  It's also been on Vintage Los Angeles.



A shot of the "Mame" getup taken at the premiere for the film on March 26, 1974. Thanks to Kevin Miller on the non-public Facebook group Mid Century Modern Los Angeles for the photo. He notes: "Since it was Easter the film's costume designer, Theodora Van Runkle, designed a gigantic Easter bonnet measuring 550 ft. in circumference to sit a top the dome! Hundreds of guests arrived in vintage cars, wearing 1920s period costumes and Daily Variety columnist Army Archard announced the arrival of each star! Merv Griffin taped his nightly tv talk show from the premiere that night. It was one of Hollywood's biggest & grandest premieres in recent memory."



Thanks to John Ford for this summer 1978 "Revenge of the Pink Panther" shot he posted on Vintage Los Angeles. Also see a very pinkish "Panther" view from the west on the same Facebook page from Jake Schmo.



"The Blue Lagoon" in 1980. It's a Roy Hankey photo in Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A look across Sunset Blvd. during the 1981 run of "Zoot Suit." Thanks to Alison Martino for the photo, once on the Mid Century Modern Los Angeles Facebook page. Much of "Zoot Suit" was filmed nearby in the Earl Carroll Theatre.  See the Theatres in Movies post on the film for a few shots in the theatre from the film.



A luscious view of Hollywood and, of course, the Dome. Early 80s? It's one of many classic Los Angeles photos from the estate of Barbara Harlen in the Kingsley Collection. The photo has also appeared on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



A 1988 view in the Los Angeles Public Library collection taken by Chris Gulker during the run of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

More exterior views in the Los Angeles Public Library collection: "Mad, Mad World" - another premier night view | "Grand Prix" - 1966 - looking down at the entrance | "1941" signage view - Anne Knudsen - 1979 | looking toward downtown - 1987 - Paul Chinn | dome texture - 1988 - Chris Gulker | parking lot and Dome - undated - Gary Leonard | aerial redevelopment view - 2002 - Gary Leonard |



A 2002 shot from Film-Tech.com with "This Is Cinerama" on the marquee. It was the first three-strip presentation at the theatre.  It's on the site's Cinerama Dome page which you can find by going to pictures and scrolling down to the Cinerama Dome listing under "singles, twins, trios, quads."



A 2004 view of the Dome added by Ken McIntyre to the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page that was taken during during the run of "Shrek 2." 



A 2007 look at the theatre. Photo: Bill Counter



The view west on Sunset. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF - 2009



The boxoffice windows east of the entrance doors. One now buys tickets inside at the ArcLight boxoffice.  Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF - 2009



 The signage at night. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF - 2009 



The Dome from across the street. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF - 2009. Thanks for all your great photos, Don! 



A 2013 look up at the signage by Alison Martino on her Facebook page Vintage los Angeles. Thanks, Alison! 



The rear of the Cinerama Dome. We're looking north toward Sunset Blvd. At the right is the entrance to the ArcLight lobby. At the left is the portion of the new development containing restaurants and retail. Photo: Bill Counter - 2013



The Dome got all dressed in yellow for "The Minions" in June 2015. Thanks to Lydia Zerne for her photo, which she once added as a comment to a Facebook post.  There are more "Minions" views to be seen on Photos of Los Angeles.

 

The Dome from above, one of many treats on Ian Wood's 6 minute 2015 video "Los Angeles." It includes flyovers of Capitol Records, the Griffith Observatory, City Hall, the canals of Venice, Lake Hollywood and more. Don't miss it!



Thanks to David Silver for this great January 2017 view west across the Dome from 18 floors up. He posted it on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.

70mm "Cinerama" at the Dome: The first film at the Dome was also the first film branded as Cinerama but not in their original 3 projector process. "Mad World" was photographed in Ultra Panavision, a 70mm process which took the 2.21 aspect ratio of TODD-AO and added a squeeze during filming and a 1.25 expansion anamorphic lens during projection to end up with a 2.76 to 1 aspect ratio image.


An ad for the theatre's initial film thanks to Michael Coate on In70mm.com, the website devoted to all things 70mm. It's from "It's a Long Long Long Long List," his 2010 article about roadshow engagements for the film.

For projection on Cinerama screens a "rectified" print was produced with no squeeze in the middle and more and more compression closer to the sides of the image to yield a normal looking image on the deeply curved screen. The resultant aspect ratio was evidently less than the full 2.76 to 1. Perhaps 2.55 measured around the curve while, from the back of the house, looking more like 2 to 1.

See the excellent discussion of 70mm Cinerama on Martin Hart's site Widescreen Museum. He notes that the Ultra Panavision films, when shown in Cinerama houses, didn't use an anamorphic but rather lenses ground specifically for the curvature of the screen.

Other 70mm "Cinerama" films were shot in "Super Panavision," a non-anamorphic process like TODD-AO only with lenses by Panavision. Like TODD-AO, the aspect ratio was 2.21 to 1. Many of these films didn't get special prints, even for Cinerama Theatres.



Three Norelco 35/70mm AAII projectors and Ventarc lamps getting readied for the Cinerama's opening. Thanks to Roland Lataille for the photo from a Boxoffice magazine article. It appears on the Cinerama Dome page of his website InCinerama.com.



Inspecting the theatre's original Ampex 6/4/1 sound system. The photos are from the Boxoffice magazine issue of February 10, 1964. See the full article for more details. It's about the role that "sound experts" should play in new theatre construction.

Other films that played the theatre promoted as "in Cinerama," in a list from Ronald Lataille's InCinerama site include:

“The Greatest Story Ever Told” (2-18-1965) 43 weeks
“Battle of the Bulge” (12-17-1965) 27 weeks
“Khartoum” (6-24-1966) 24 weeks
“Grand-Prix (12-23-1966) 44 weeks
“Ice Station Zebra” (10-24-1968) 29 weeks
“Krakatoa East of Java” (5-15-1969) 23 weeks



Another film at the theatre that was promoted as being in Cinerama was "This Is Cinerama." But for this 1973 run it was a 70mm composite print made from the 3 original 35mm negatives. Not until 2002 would the equipment necessary for three-strip presentations be installed. The ad is from Roland Lataille's In Cinerama collection.

The Screen: The current screen size is 86' x 32' encompassing 126 degrees of arc. It's not the original Cinerama louver style but with the size and curvature of the 1963 original. The first (c.1953) Cinerama screens typically had 146 degrees of arc and (unlike the Dome's) did not have a consistent curvature -- they had a sharper radius in the center and got flatter out to the sides.

The original louvered screen at the Dome was removed and replaced with a flat sheet sometime around 1973. It's a white screen, not silver. For the December 2015 "Star Wars" run, their scope format picture was 65' wide.

The L.A. Times ran a 2002 article "Big Screen Furor-Rama..." when the screen was scheduled to be replaced (again) in 2002 after a remodel. The Times also has a few comments about the article. Purists wanted a louvered screen again. Pacific wanted (and ended up putting in) a big screen but as a single sheet -- claiming their massive new sound system would cause the strips to vibrate excessively.



A view of an original style louvered Cinerama screen -- designed to prevent light on the sides of the screen from washing out the picture on the other side. It's from Greg Kimble's great article "This is Cinerama" on the widescreen site In70mm.com.



A typical early Cinerama sound installation using 5 Altec A-2 Voice of the Theatre speaker systems with double 90 degree HF horns for the stage channels. The photo is in Lee Sound Design's Altec photo gallery. It also appears in a 1953 SMPTE paper on speakers and amps for stereo theatre sound that can be viewed on the American Widescreen Museum site. The Cinerama Dome originally had Voice of the Theatre speakers. That's all been replaced with newer JBL equipment with the screen speakers mounted in a THX-style infinite baffle. There are 44 surround speakers, also by JBL. Sound absorbent material was added in each of the ceiling's hexagons.

Current booth equipment: The Dome got an upgrade for the December 2015 "Star Wars" release with an installation of the dual head Christie 6P laser projector and the Dolby 3D process. This both upped the light level as well as providing more comfortable 3D glasses than the heavier battery powered active glasses used earlier.

Hollywood Reporter had a story about the new equipment. They quote Joe Miraglia, the ArcLight director of design and construction, as saying the gear cost several hundred thousand dollars. He noted screen brightness was about 8 footlamberts for 3D with a 65' wide scope format picture and 14 footlamberts for 2D.  It's unknown if this equipment stayed in the theatre or not. One 2017 presentation viewed was not exceptional in terms of brightness.

Except for special presentations, it's all digital projection at the Dome. Previously it was two Christie CP 4230 4K projectors and two GDC digital cinema servers. They were using the XPAND process with active glasses for 3D films.

For the occasional film presentation, there's a Kinoton FP75E 35/70mm machine. A 4Kw lamp is typically used for 35mm, a 7.5 Kw lamp for 70mm presentations. For 70mm, both DTS sound time code synched with the film and 6 channel mag are options. There's Dolby Digital and Dolby analog sound processing. "The Master" in 2013 and "Interstellar" in 2014 got 70mm runs.

In addition, there's the gear for 3-strip Cinerama presentations using 3 Century/Cinerama projectors fed by platters and the separate full coat 35mm mag dubber for the 7 channel stereophonic sound. Selsyn motors keep the 4 units in synch. See the ArcLight website's learn more page for a nice tech summary.

Three Strip at the Dome: Since 2002 the Dome has been equipped to run 3-strip Cinerama, which it missed out on originally. It's hosted revival screenings of "How The West Was Won," "This is Cinerama" and other titles. On In70mm.com see the article about the initial three strip presentations at the Dome: "Cinerama Dome 2002."



"This is Cinerama" finally made it to the Dome in the original three-projector process in 2002. Thanks to the site From Script To DVD for the ad -- it's on their Cinerama Dome/ArcLight page.



An "A" frame from a "This Is Cinerama" scene shot in Venice. It's  from Greg Kimble's "This is Cinerama" article on the site In70mm. Note the 6 perforations per frame pull-down.  You can click on these for enlarged views.



The "B" frame from the shot.



The "C" frame from the "This Is Cinerama" shot.



The Cinerama projector at the house left end of the booth threaded up for a December 2002 screening of "How The West Was Won." The photo comes from an In70mm article about the event by Rick Mitchell.



A closer look at one of the Century projectors in the Dome's large curved booth used for three-strip Cinerama presentations. The photo is from an article on the December 2002 screening of "How the West Was Won" on the site In70mm.com.



A 2002 view of the center of the booth at the with a Kinoton 35/70mm projector beyond the platter and the center Cinerama projector behind that. The theatre was running at the time with a 4000 watt xenon lamp for 35mm and a 7500 watt lamp for 70mm. Regular film runs at the Dome are now digital. The photo is on the Film-Tech.com page on the theatre which you can find by going to pictures and scrolling down to the Cinerama Dome listing under "singles, twins, trios, quads."



One of the Cinerama projectors in a photo from Film-Tech.



The 35mm full coat mag sound reproducer for three strip Cinerama presentations. It's a 7500' reel. Originally the 3 film sections were on 7500' reels as well. For this installation platters are used. Visit the Film-Tech site for many more pictures by Mark Ogden and John Sittig. Head to pictures and scroll down to the Cinerama Dome listing. There are also photos of many other theatres to browse as well as equipment manuals and more.

 

The Dome's crowd in for a Cinerama screening. It's from an In70mm.com article on a 2002 3-strip screening of "This is Cinerama."



On the site Ominous-Valve.com pay a visit to Hugh's article "Cinerama II: The Revival" for his informative review of a 2012 three-strip screening of "How the West Was Won" at the Dome as well as a discussion of the technical aspects of the Cinerama process itself. Bonus feature: aspect ratio chart. Also see the site's Altec page for a discussion of the original sound system at the Dome.

The Cinerama Process at 60: The Dome had a a 3 strip festival in September 2012 to celebrate Cinerama's 60th Anniversary. It featured both new and vintage three strip Cinerama footage as well as 70mm presentations. See the In70mm.com article for many photos. Also see the photos of the event on the same site from Anders Olsson.



A three-strip Cinerama camera back in action in 2012 -- for the first time in over 50 years. On YouTube there are several shorts by Michael Cahill about film historian Dave Strohmaier shooting new 3 strip Cinerama footage in Los Angeles: "Cinerama 2012" Part 1 | Part 2



A three strip Cinerama camera displayed at the Dome during the September 2012 "Cinerama at 60" festival. The photo on Photos of Los Angeles is by Mark Tipton. 



The lens end of the Cinerama camera. It's a 2012 photo by Mark Tipton. 



A closeup view by Mark Tipton of the three very tiny Cinerama lenses. Thanks, Mark! See the trailer on YouTube for "The Last Days of Cinerama," a documentary about the 2012 shooting of three-strip Cinerama footage in Los Angeles. And from What Happens Next Productions, the full 24 minute short: "The Last Days of Cinerama."

More theatre information: See the ArcLight Cinemas page here on this site. ArcLight has put together a 5 minute documentary about the building of the Dome. It's on YouTube.

See the page on Cinema Treasures for many discussions about the Dome by enthusiastic fans. Michael Coate has lists of films playing the theatre from the 70s until 2000 in several 2008 comments on the Cinema Treasures page.

The Cinema Tour page on the Cinerama Dome has lots of photos (including booth views) and a brief history.  From Script To DVD has a fine Cinerama Dome page.

The L.A. Times had an October 2013 story about the theatre turning 50. Modern Home Theatre has a 2002 article about the complex with a few photos and a discussion of the upgrade to play three-strip Cinerama films.

More 70mm Information: See this site's Egyptian Theatre page for lots of data about TODD-AO, the 70mm process that kicked off the big screen roadshow era in 1955. The Egyptian was the first theatre in the area equipped for the process. For a rundown on 70mm engagements at Los Angeles theatres, go to Michael Coate's terrific site FromScriptToDVD.com. Head for the main 70mm page.

More Cinerama Process Information:
For more information on the history of the Cinerama projection process see the Cinerama section on the film and theatre technology resources page. Check out the main Warner Hollywood page where there's lots of Cinerama information. Prior to the opening of the Dome, the Warner was the Cinerama theatre for southern California. 

Michael Coate's From Script To DVD site has a great This Is Cinerama in L.A. page with a history of three-strip and 70mm Cinerama engagements in Los Angeles. See Roland Lataille's InCinerama.com web site for lots more data and Cinerama memorabilia. And for lots of fun check out the site about the documentary "Cinerama Adventure" -- the site also has information about the 2012 Cinerama production "In The Picture."

The site In70mm.com has lots of Cinerama information. See their Cinerama index page and the article on Cinerama pictures on digital. For the latest Cinerama filming in Los Angeles there's the article "Cinerama 2012." 

And don't miss the six page Cinerama section on Martin Hart's amazing site Widescreen Museum.  The name "Cinerama" and the distinctive zig-zag logo are trademarks of Cinerama Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Theatres.

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